| This isn't much of a diary, but I wanted to pick up on some thoughts jgoodman expressed recently.
Assuming Barack Obama wins the election on Tuesday, we will have a president who appears to understand some of the problems with our current energy and agriculture policies. From a recent interview Obama gave Time magazine:
There is no better potential driver that pervades all aspects of our economy than a new energy economy.
I was just reading an article in the New York Times by Michael Pollen [sic] about food and the fact that our entire agricultural system is built on cheap oil. As a consequence, our agriculture sector actually is contributing more greenhouse gases than our transportation sector. And in the mean time, it's creating monocultures that are vulnerable to national security threats, are now vulnerable to sky-high food prices or crashes in food prices, huge swings in commodity prices, and are partly responsible for the explosion in our healthcare costs because they're contributing to type 2 diabetes, stroke and heart disease, obesity, all the things that are driving our huge explosion in healthcare costs. That's just one sector of the economy. You think about the same thing is true on transportation. The same thing is true on how we construct our buildings. The same is true across the board.
The Des Moines Register (cheerleader for conventional agriculture) jumped on this story, which prompted some unfortunate backpedaling from the Obama camp:
The Obama campaign issued a statement on Thursday saying that Obama "was simply paraphrasing an article he read. He believes there are a lot of factors that contribute to obesity, heart disease and other health problems, but he certainly doesn't blame farmers."
But Ron Litterer, a Greene farmer who is chairman of the National Corn Growers Association, said Obama's comments in the Time interview were "in conflict with what he's been saying about agriculture, no question about it."
The Illinois senator supports farm programs and incentives for corn ethanol. He has aggressively courted the corn growers and other farm groups during his presidential campaign. Several past presidents of the corn group have endorsed Obama. [...]
Sen. Charles Grassley, an Iowa Republican who supports John McCain, Obama's rival, said Pollan's ideas would be detrimental to Iowa's economy and increase hunger by reducing food production. Obama has been "very understanding of how farmers contribute to fuel as well as food and fiber," Grassley said.
Obama's campaign said his "strong record of standing up for farmers and America's rural communities speaks for itself."
The statement also said Obama would "bring the change rural America needs by increasing investments in renewable energy and giving family farmers the support they need by allowing them to diversify their crops and increase revenue."
The article goes on to quote Michael Pollan's New York Times article, pointing out that Pollan favors policies that would raise meat prices.
It also cites "a study to be published soon in the journal Food Policy," which allegedly "found no evidence that corn subsidies have affected the consumption of corn sweeteners."
Folks, even with a Democratic president and Congress, we are going to face enormous political and institutional resistance to the "change we need" when it comes to food policy.
Perhaps Obama's backpedaling is just a way to avoid giving Republicans any edge so close to the election, but I fear that even after the election, Obama will not be willing to spend his political capital on trying to change agriculture policies that have bipartisan support in Congress.
I don't have any bright ideas on how to approach this, but I wanted to bring Obama's recent comments to the attention of the La Vida Locavore community.