The New York Times has released three short videos about the food system in its “We’re Cooked” series about problems in the food system.
Why controversial? Here are three reactions:
I. Aaron Smith, an ag professor at UC Davis says: “NYT Comes Out Swinging”
The thesis of the video is that American agriculture now consists of a small number of large farms that exert political power to avoid environmental regulation while they rack up huge profits.
They got some things right. The agricultural lobby is very good at avoiding regulation and extracting money from taxpayers. There are serious environmental issues in agriculture, including greenhouse gas emissions and water pollution.
His column, illustrated with useful charts, is mostly about what the Times missed: the benefits of Big Ag.
II. Civil Eats published an op-ed, also on what the videos did not do: The New York Times Took on the Food System. Here’s What They Missed.
While the series hits hard and directly at agribusiness power, however, it misses a huge part of the story…Primarily addressing urban consumers, the videos give the microphone to environmental lawyers, academics, an animal rights organizer and—in the final episode—clean-cut entrepreneurs promising their own brand of factory-produced protein in the form of crickets and other insects…Absent from the series are the rural voices from North Carolina to Iowa to California who oppose factory farms because of the water and air pollution they face every day. Also missing are the rural-based environmental justice leaders who are important defenders of the country’s land and water. Absent, too, are the growing number of farmers in the U.S. and around the world who are raising animals within agroecological systems that protect the land’s adaptive capacity and mitigate greenhouse gas emissions.
III. AndrewRdeC (@Andrew deCoriolis) Tweeted: My response in @nytimes to “True Cost of Cheap Chicken”:
Pasture-raised is the standard of animal welfare consumers expect—but the chicken industry doesn’t come close to meeting that expectation. Why would it, when it’s more profitable to humanewash?
Comment: I’m hoping the Times will do at least one more on what everyone can do—as individuals or groups—to create food systems that are healthier for eaters, farmers and farm workers, farm animals, and the planet.