Food and Farm Policy Update: Rockin’ for Food

Students are heading back to school and hoping to avoid some of the food pitfalls that campus life brings. Even though they may not know where every 3am pizza or tailgate bounty was sourced, it’s reassuring to know that musicians are getting involved with food issues in a variety of cool ways.
HeadCount artists Willie Nelson and Dave Matthews are among those who will be at this year’s installment of Farm Aid, in Milwaukee on October 2. For 25 years, Farm Aid has been assisting family farms like this one with finances and resources. Farm Aid and its affiliate HomeGrown.org focus on “promoting food from family farms, growing the good food movement, helping farmers thrive and taking action to change the system.” In 2009 Farm Aid gave out $503,500 to 72 family farms and other organizations nationwide who used the money in a variety of ways to promote sustainable practices. (Note: HeadCount will be at Farm Aid and we’re currentlyrecruiting volunteers. And if you’re a fan of Willie, get a call from him before the election by taking our Pledge to Vote.)
If you can’t make it to Milwaukee in October, Farm Aid isn’t the only game in town when it comes to mixing food smarts and music. Hawaii’s barefoot singer/songwriter, Jack Johnson is a known proponent for green living and sustainable food. His current tour is one of the most earth-friendly ones out there and includes efforts to personally eat locally coast-to-coast and let his fans know where they can find organic eats while they’re roadtrippin’. Check out his website AllAtOnce.org, a social network meant to connect like-minded individuals so they can share ideas and info about local produce and food-related projects.
Neil Young (who is also on the Farm Aid roster) is another artist who’s working overtime for food. He and Tyson Foods have teamed up to help hungry families in the Gulf Coast. Tyson has announced that they will donate 100,000 pounds of chicken products to the Bay Area Food Bank in conjunction with Young’s stops in the gulf (Mobile, Panama City, Pensacola and Biloxi.) Looks like until the oil spill situation clears up, Gulf residents will have to settle for the chicken-of-Tyson instead of the usual local fare of-the-sea. Tyson has a mixed record on sustainability and ethics, but claims a commitment to those ideals. This humanitarian effort and Young’s implied endorsement will certainly win them some brownie points.
On the legislative front (not quite as fun as Farm Aid, Jack or Neil, but still kinda important), the bickering Senate found something to agree on – unanimously passing the $4.5 billion Child Nutrition Act. It gives schools money to plant sustainable gardens and gives the Dept. of Agriculture a mandate to establish nutrition standards for schools. This probably means the end of soda and candy sales to tots during the school day. The Senate is also inching closer to a bipartisan agreement on food safety.


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