Thursday, September 19, 2013

Big agribusiness BS exposed tonight at CC

Posted By on Thu, Sep 19, 2013 at 3:55 PM

As highlighted in Kirsten Akens' feature in this week's IndyWenonah Hauter, executive director of the consumer advocacy organization Food & Water Watch, will speak for free tonight at Colorado College from 6:30 to 8 p.m. 
click to enlarge "We need to break down big issues into smaller, manageable chunks and re-engage people in the political system," says Hauter, adding that "what [Colorado Springs is] doing with direct sales and the Public Market" is a good step in that direction. - MATTHEW SCHNIPER
  • Matthew Schniper
  • "We need to break down big issues into smaller, manageable chunks and re-engage people in the political system," says Hauter, adding that "what [Colorado Springs is] doing with direct sales and the Public Market" is a good step in that direction.
I attended a small "farm-to-fork" luncheon with Hauter earlier today at the Carter Payne Event Center, fittingly catered by the new Seeds Community Cafe, and attended by the usual suspects in our local sustainability circles, from Ranch Foods Direct heads to Colorado Springs Public Market organizers, area food producers and a few local politicians. 

Hauter spoke for around 20 minutes prior to a Q&A session, as a taste of what's to come this evening. 

She began with a historic overview of our modern food system, dating back to the New Deal and moving through World War II and significant moments of both the Reagan and Clinton years. She talked mainly of failures of anti-trust legislation followed by years of giant agribusiness mergers that have birthed lobbying monsters and have brought us to the pile of mud in which we stand today.

She used the phrase "weakening of democracy" several times while discussing the likes of ConAgra Foods, Tyson and Cargill, all powerful entities with grotesque wealth and the ability to essentially do as they please. And she briefly covered failures of recent farm bills in our nation's capitol that did away with our grain reserve while making it even more difficult for small farmers to compete with the food giants in the marketplace.

After also highlighting the depressing nature of the grocery industry (four chains controlling 50 percent of sales, she says) she noted that "we can't shop our way out of this," even if we are utilizing local farmers markets and trying our best to help on that grassroots level. 

Joking that "I didn't write Foodopoly to bum people out," she intentionally softened the tone to one of hopefulness, while
emphasizing the need to engage younger people in politics and create some push-back.

Ranch Foods Direct head Mike Callicrate reemphasized that in a short speech afterward, in which he emphasized that Colorado Springs, particularly with the Public Market's birth, could be a key place for the good-food movement to spread wings. 

"The more pressure we apply on the industrial models, the more resistance we'll face," he cautioned, opting for a football analogy of a goal-line stand: the Denver Broncos versus Coronado High School players without pads. 

Learn more about and cheer for the underdogs this evening. 

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