Obama’s Recipe For Rural America (And Chili, Too!)

By Sean Reagan

Ari LeVaux recently interviewed Barack Obama on issues relating to food and agriculture. Obama, you’ll recall, voted in favor of the Farm Bill with the altogether reasonable observation that we shouldn’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good.

McCain, not so much.

As John Nichols said,

McCain, who is a more militant supporter of corporate-friendly trade policies even than Bush, objected to what he described as the farm bill’s “flawed policies that distort the markets.” Translation: The measure was too good for Main Street and not good enough for Wall Street.

The man McCain is likely to face in the November election, Democrat Barack Obama, embraced a different set of priorities.

“By opposing the bill, President Bush and John McCain are saying no to America’s farmers and ranchers, no to energy independence, no to the environment, and no to millions of hungry people,” argued Obama.

Food and ag issues aren’t exactly sexy, but they do impact all of us on a daily basis. LeVaux doesn’t pull any punches in his questions, and Obama’s answers are thoughtful and thorough. Eight years into The 28% Man’s presidency, it’s easy to forget that we could have a President who talks like this:

I am very familiar with the great work of Angelic Organics and other community supported farms. These types of farms can provide an important source of fresh fruits and vegetables to inner city communities that do not have easy access to grocery stores that sell organic foods. Moreover, farms like Angelic Organics that sell directly to consumers cut out all of the middlemen and get full retail price for their food, which increases the financial viability of small family farms.

As president, I would implement USDA policies that promote local and regional food systems, including assisting states to develop programs aimed at community supported farms. I also support a national farm-to-school program and am pleased that the Farm Bill provides more than $1 billion to expand healthy snacks in our schools.

If you care about farms and farmers – hell, if you care about the food on your table – go give it a read.

And hey, bonus? You get Obama’s personal chili recipe. It’s his favorite thing to bring to a potluck.

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9 Responses to “Obama’s Recipe For Rural America (And Chili, Too!)”

  1. Sean,
    Thank you forf the great article, I confess that I am not familiar with the Farming Bill, but I have been reading a lot about it lately.
    P.S. I think you dropped the h in http…..the link won’t open 🙂

  2. Link fixed!

    I think McCain -and Republicans like Marilyn Musgrave – are vulnerable based on their opposition to the Farm Bill.  There’s plenty in it to gripe about but really, when you’re responsibly putting food on so many people’s table, what’s not to like?






  3. Sean,
    It is good to see the interview.  I think Obama will do better than expected in rural America once people see his policies and John McCain’s policies together.

  4. Excellent article.  Thanks for the link Sean.  As an organic farmer who left corporate America to turn the family farm into a business, I must say that Obama is hitting on the points that I want to hear.  I think these issues are going to play a role this election cycle as people begin to understand the relationship of raising food costs in the store to a fossil-fuel based corporate food distribution system.

  5. Very good to read.  Thanks for the info. There’s certainly a strange popularity disconnect between the substantial market of food-obssessed localvores and actual knowledge or discussion of the Farm Bill.  The MSM trashing of arugala — ignoring that it was more likely Obama was talking profit margins and farmer’s share thereof in Iowa  and not snooty palatte — has made it more difficult to cover as well. Though, the combination of fuel costs and the shortage of workers due to undocumented worker problems may create more creative conversations and universal interest in them. It’s encouraging that at least our candidate is well aware of the possibilities of much broader farm-to-customer possibilities. And that there’s some federal money at least trickling that direction. And that Obama wants more.


  6. Thanks for the great feedback, everyone.  Over time, small steps in the farm bill (we get it back every five years) can make a big difference.  And my sense is that Obama genuinely cares about this issue.  As food prices (and fuel prices) rise, I think people are going to start paying more attention to this issue.  Farmer’s Markets are increasing in numbers, there’s a growing consensus about the health problems related to poor dietary habits (obesity, diabetes, etc.) and – perhaps most importantly – people and candidates are talking about it.  There’s reason to – dare I say it – hope!

    By the way, thanks for the plug over at MyDD Student Guy!

    Okay, off to eat some egg salad from the backyard chickens . . .



  7. That was a good article. Thanks for telling us about it.

  8. Sean – thanks for this post.  Again Obama demonstrating his grasp of the issues while carving our some niche issues – small farmers supplying the inner city, healthy food, tackling the obesity problem – which encourage and demand communities working together.

  9. I find it fascinating that Obama is familiar with Angelic Organics. The farmer of Angelic Organics is the star of The Real Dirt on Farmer John – an off-beat counter-culture alternative-lifestyle look at one man’s life in farming. It is a fantastic film that I would heartily recommend to anyone. I know the farm has had huge success selling to folks in Chicago so maybe its no surprise that Obama knows about it, but I still think it is impressive.

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