The election is less than a week away and although food isn't one of the hot-button issues the candidates are talking much about, but it will be a serious national issue in the years to come. Our food system is flawed and will need attention, especially as we are facing increasing food prices, environmental concerns and health issues such as obesity.
I'm interested in hearing what you would suggest to the new president to fix this flawed food system if you had his ear. What would you do? Tell EatingWell what you think and read what other people have suggested. We're sending everyone's ideas to the new president, including the suggestions of the experts I talked to for the October issue of EatingWell Magazine.
With a new administration on the horizon, I asked 3 experts: "If you could do one thing to improve the U.S. food system, what would it be?" You might be surprised by their answers.
Bill McKibben, author of Deep Economy and The End of Nature and scholar-in-residence in Environmental Studies at Middlebury College
I'd build a local food-processing center in every county in the U.S. After a hundred years of consolidating control of agriculture in a few (corporate) hands, it's abundantly clear that we need to focus on local food again. A local infrastructure uses less energy, rebuilds rural communities-and food grown nearby actually tastes like food. One casualty of subsidizing agribusiness for generations has been that most small canneries, grist mills, slaughterhouses and the like are gone. This vital infrastructure can be restored at low cost to help underwrite the future for every farmer and every eater.
Alice Lichtenstein, D.Sc., Professor at the Friedman School of Nutrition at Tufts University and EatingWell advisor
There should be mandatory calorie labeling at point of purchase, coupled with a campaign to "Know Your Number." People should have some idea of their caloric requirements. Then if they see that that piece of coffee cake, sugary coffee drink or extra-large fries is a certain number of calories, they can figure out how that fits into their diet. I think that [calculating calorie needs] should be incorporated into the math education for kids in elementary school. Body weight is the major problem in the United States; it's still much too high in at least two-thirds of individuals.
Brian Wansink, author of Mindless Eating, director of the Cornell University Food & Brand Lab, executive director of the USDA Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion, and EatingWell advisor
I'd like to re-empower nutritional gatekeepers-the people who purchase and prepare the food in the household-and make sure they have information about how to eat better. Not just in a website or brochure or what a dietitian says, but in kitchens. There'd be a tip on how to eat better for dinner in flat-screen technology they're talking about for refrigerators-[or in a] text message-every day. [Nutritional gatekeepers] can have a tremendous role in the way their family eats, a lot more than they might think, and it's a role that they can start tonight.
By Michelle Edelbaum
Michelle is the associate editor of interactive for EatingWell Media Group. In between editing and writing, she enjoys sampling the tasty results of the easy, healthy recipes that the EatingWell Test Kitchen cooks are working on.
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