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Published on February 27th, 2009 | by Beth Bader

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Change and Your Food System

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Updates on Obama, Stimulus and Food Policy in Washington

Stimulating an Appetite for More
Just over three percent of the massive stimulus price tag is allocated to food programs including food stamps, meals for elderly, after-school food programs and WIC — the Special Nutrition Supplement Program for Women, Infants and Children. Advocates for food programs and agriculture reform were hoping for more. Read the report here.

“Sustainable” Deputy for the USDA Announced
Sustainable agriculture advocates were justifiably dismayed when Vilsack was nominated as head of the USDA. Vilsack historically had strong support for  agribusiness and ethanol. Now there’s reason for some hope with the nomination for USDA second-in-command, Kathleen Merrigan, currently director of the Agriculture, Food and Environment Program at Tufts. Merrigan was one of the “sustainable dozen” candidates proposed by the group Food Democracy Now. There’s good reason to believe sustainability concerns will be heard in the new USDA administration.

But Does Merrigan Garden?
All USDA offices now feature a garden where fruits and vegetables grown are donated to local food banks. Michelle Obama met with the USDA, praising the garden effort and expressing her support for community gardens.

An End to Fragmented Food Safety Administration?
In further positive news, a bill was introduced to help create a single Food Safety Agency, an approach that is supported by Agriculture Secretary Vilsack. Currently food safety is “managed” by both USDA and FDA in a convoluted approach, fraught with gaps and a real lack of enforcement and accountability. Not without critics, this issue will be one to watch in the wake of the peanut butter recall and other food safety issues.



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About the Author

Beth Bader is co-author of the book, The Cleaner Plate Club. She is a passionate "Local Food" advocate and an author for the Eat Local Challenge. She loves creating healthy, family-friendly, seasonal foods, family dinners, cooking for friends, and cooking with her child. You can her at The Expatriate's Kitchen.



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