Campaign Looks to Elevate Food to the Ballot Box

Campaign Looks to Elevate Food to the Ballot Box

Coalition of science and food groups launched an effort to expose a broken food system.


Food policy affects many issues—from the environment to economic justice—but it’s been absent from the presidential campaign trail. In an effort to change that, a coalition of science and food groups recently launched a campaign called “Plate of the Union.”

The group, which includes the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS), Food Policy Action and the HEAL Food Alliance, released a three-minute video that takes viewers on a journey into the heart of the dysfunctional food system, spelling out how it’s broken. The video is narrated by Ricardo Salvador, director of the UCS Food and Environment program.

He explains how the U.S. food system uses tax dollars to enrich big corporations while exploiting farmers and food-industry food workers; damaging the environment through inefficient, high-pollution industrial farming methods; and indirectly making Americans sick by subsidizing the production of corn and soybeans, ingredients used in processed foods, rather than encouraging farmers to grow more fruits and vegetables.

Dr. Salvador calls on voters to demand real solutions from presidential candidates.

“Bad food policy is costing America billions of dollars—through poorly directed subsidies and higher healthcare costs—and literally shortening our lives thanks to rising rates of diet-related diseases like obesity, Type 2 diabetes and heart disease,” he said. “We need real leadership to build a food system that works for consumers, farmers, food-service workers and the environment—not just the big corporations that sell unhealthy junk food.

In a national survey taken this fall, strong majorities of voters expressed concern about the effect of the broken food system and the influence of money in food policy. A 53% majority of likely voters agreed that too many Americans can’t afford healthy food in their communities, and better food policy is needed to ensure that everyone has access to nutritious food.

“American voters get it—they know our food system is too driven by money, and it’s damaging our health,” said Dr. Salvador. “Voters are looking for presidential candidates to show some leadership and say what they’d do to fix the problem.”
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