If there is one thing most of us can agree on, it is that our food system is broken and that we desperately need some changes. An alarming percentage of people in the U.S. are obese and overweight, yet some kids still go to bed hungry. The food our current system produces has given us the Standard American Diet, which is appropriately referred to using the acronym “SAD.”
The impact our food system is having on our health is SAD. The impact it is having on our society is SAD. And the impact it is having on our environment is SAD.
The way we produce food in the U.S. isn’t doing anyone any favors, aside from the big corporations that stand to profit from selling us nutrient-devoid, calorie-dense, addictive foods that are cheap to produce.
This is why the fine folks over at the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) are putting their money where their mouth is (well, it’s OUR money as taxpayers). The USDA recently announced a $1 billion investment to support farmers, ranchers, and forest landowners in implementing climate-smart conservation practices.
This sounds like great news! If we can start by propping up the hard-working people producing our foods responsibly, we could start building momentum towards tangible, positive change in our food system.
But unfortunately, this is where the good news ends. The recipients of this federal funding initiative were recently announced, and one of the projects that was denied funding under the USDA Climate Smart Commodity Grant was an initiative proposed by our friends over at White Oak Pastures.
Bloated bureaucracies like the USDA will always take care of their donors over farms that could actually affect the Standard American Diet in a positive way
White Oak Pastures is a regenerative ranch in Georgia that sells delicious, nutrient-dense, and responsibly raised meats. For years, the ranchers at White Oaks have been grazing their grass-fed sheep on large solar panel fields in collaboration with a local energy company. The pilot program has been incredibly successful, offering a solution for the energy company that needs to keep the solar panel fields grazed down while providing plenty of natural forage for sheep that would eventually turn into nutritious, grass-fed meat.
White Oak Pastures applied for federal funding so that they could expand this practice and teach other farmers how to do it. It seemed like a win-win for energy companies and farmers that need access to land without having to come up with a huge cash outlay.
Their funding application was denied. Now, you would think that perhaps there were just too many other great projects in the running, and our friends at White Oak Pastures simply didn’t make the cut but unfortunately, that is not the case. If you look at the list of approved projects under this federal funding initiative, you’ll see names like Coca-Cola, PepsiCo, Cargill, Nestle, and even big box store brands like Target and Walmart.
Why do companies like Target and Walmart need millions of dollars in federal funding? How will that improve our food system?!
The key takeaway? If you agree that our food system is broken and that change is badly needed, don’t worry. Your tax dollars are hard at work helping the people at Target, Coca-Cola, and Walmart to figure it out.
I’m sure they have our health and the health of our planet in mind when using that money.
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