Several pieces worth reading

We’re going to be extra busy preparing for our big Slow Food event this Wednesday, so I’ll be leaving this site alone. But we found or were referred to several very interesting pieces in recent issues of the NY Times, which I wanted to pass along for others like us who don’t normally read it.

First is a column by Michael Pollan regarding the role food and agricultural policy ought to play (but isn’t) in our national health care discussion. Though we sometimes disagree with Pollan on his prescriptions (no soda taxes, thanks) and he can come across as a thorough coastal elitist, we’ve also found that nearly everything he writes connects dots in some new and thought-provoking way that makes him always worth reading. In this case, it’s his argument that requiring insurance companies to eliminate pre-existing conditions and forcing them to cover everybody regardless of situation will, in effect, force those companies to look at the diet-related causes of American health problems.

When health insurers can no longer evade much of the cost of treating the collateral damage of the American diet, the movement to reform the food system — everything from farm policy to food marketing and school lunches — will acquire a powerful and wealthy ally, something it hasn’t really ever had before.

I’d never thought about it that way, although I’ve long been bothered by that fact that health care and coverage pay almost no attention to personal responsibility, choices, and lifestyle.

Second is a column by Dan Barber, chef at a rather pretentious (but tasty) sounding Hudson valley restaurant. (Seriously, does the NY Times even know the Midwest exists?). Barber does an excellent job of summing up some of the challenges and potential for local food systems, basing his analysis on the devastating late blight outbreak that’s been wiping out tomatoes all over the East Coast. This outbreak has been traced to a few very large southern plant growers who supplied most eastern chain stores with tomato starters, so of course when they shipped diseased plants, they infected half the country. Sound familiar to anyone worried about the consolodation of the food industry?

In any case, while we’re at work scrubbing the house and kitchen while keeping up with harvest and maintenance, these are worth reading. We’ll post a recap of Wednesday’s event in due time.

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