Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Food policy sausage

Where does Indian agricultural policy come from? IFPRI has a new report out on how the subsidy sausage gets made, and in particular what is keeping them from making better policy.
This study throws new light on the factors that have so far prevented a move toward more pro-poor and environmentally sustainable agricultural input policies in India. The authors show that electoral politics, institutional factors, and policy paradigms or belief systems all play an important role in blocking reform.
Where did the idea of people consuming 2000 calories a day come from? M. Nestle answers from her forthcoming book: a survey + marketing. Reality is complex, with surveyed responses varying over 1400 calories per day just in what Americans admitted to eating, let alone what was actually consumed. 2000 is easy to remember, easy to divide, and less than they were recommending for most real people so as not to give an appearance of over-encouraging saturated fat and salt. But as to how many calories you personally should actually consume to be healthy and satisfied, even she gives little real help: if you're gaining weight, you're eating too much.

How is it that farmers' market food safety regulation comes out so differently from that for corporations? Tucker discovers there are (at least) two kinds of farmers' markets and points out the idiosyncracies and food safety problems in our governance of them. Attending the university-sponsored one on a whim, he found the upscale farmers market with prices to match. In another town, the market was "kept alive by the workers and peasants. The price were 1/3 to 1/2 as much as the local grocery. They have locally grown produce, and a fantastic cart full of virtually free produce that is about to spoil." He notes that neither one was easily a pure exercise in local food. At the second, he bought Vietnamese fish. At the first:
For example, the man with super-cool rabbit meat, lamb and goat sausage, and the like, had come 3.5 hours, and he does this every week, even though he doesn’t have a refrigerated truck. Every corporate giant faces a labyrinth of inspections and mandates comparable to the Soviet Gosplan, just to get meat to the market. And yet here is a guy with some animals on his land who slaughters, grinds, packs, and sells, and no one seems to be bothering him. No inspectors, no special tests, no mandates. Puzzling. Thrilling but puzzling.

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