I don’t want to jump on the exposé bandwagon, but there is something about the lack of accountability and transparency in our food system that is really unsettling. The issue is definitely complicated, but Iowa’s effort to ban undercover investigative reporting doesn’t seem like a good way to move forward. There are food safety issues like contamination that deserve to be addressed. While I don’t believe sensational videos posted on YouTube is necessarily the answer, I do believe public awareness is critical for change to occur. And maybe the public should be riled up. I know I get angry when I drive down I-5 and smell manure for miles on end. These are not the happy cows from California. But I’m willing to bet the Clover cows are- I’ve seen them when driving around Sonoma County.
As consumers, we have a lot of power. We all eat, and when it comes to food, we can definitely vote with our forks. There’s been a severe dissociation between the food on our table and where it grows. Michael Pollan covers this issue in The Omnivore’s Dilemma. Moreover, consumer demand of aesthetically perfect produce fuels increased pesticide use because of low pest tolerance. Choosing organic is a great practice if you can afford it, but it doesn’t always solve the problem. Likewise, being a selective-sometimes-eco-vegetarian/flexitarian doesn’t really get you far. But I have found that the conversations sparked when responding, “I’m a flexitarian,” can be informative and educational for both sides involved.
If you want more, there’s Food Politics by Marion Nestle, The Food of a Younger Land by Mark Kurlansky, and so many more. You could find hundreds of publications on issues related to food security, food sovereignty, food policy… It’s not just about industrial and commercial production, it’s a systemic issue that affects every individual, in the US and world-wide. Even Michelle Obama.