I’m keynoting the workship on Food, Ethics, Politics at 4:00 with a reception to follow. My talk, “”Food, Ethics, Politics: The View from 2022,” will be in the Andlinger Center for Energy and the Environment, Maeder Hall, Room 002. This event is part of the University Center for Human Values (UCHV) Conferences, Workshops & Special Events. To register to attend, click here.
Food lobbying and its consequences
My NYU Department developed programs in Food Studies based on the premise that food is so central to the human condition that studying it is a great way to get into much larger social questions. I’ve just found a terrific example in the April 9 New York Review of Books in which Michael Tomasky reviews So Damn Much Money: The Triumph of Lobbying and the Corrosion of American Goverment, by Robert G. Kaiser. I immediately ordered a copy.
According to the review, the book chronicles events in the history of a Washington, DC lobbying firm, Schlossberg – Cassidy, run by former staff members of Senate Select Committee on Nutrition and Human Needs, chaired by George McGovern (Dem-SD). The firm parlayed its thorough knowledge of food assistance programs into a consulting practice devoted to helping corporations deal with pesky regulations and policies that affect agriculture, food, nutrition, and health. To give just one example: the firm’s first academic client was Jean Mayer, the nutritionist president of Tufts University. He recruited the firm to get Congress to appropriate $27 million for a national nutrition center at Tufts. The result is the USDA Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging at Tufts University.
But this first earmark set a precedent that led to today’s deeply corrupt system of rampant congressional earmarks, election campaign contributions, dependence on polls and focus groups, and climate of political partisanship.
A book about food lobbying and its larger political and social consequences! I can’t wait to read it.