Monday, July 7, 2008

Why Aren't There More Conservatives in The Local Food Movement?

I just asked why conservative politicians don't climb aboard such obviously pro-family and pro-community initiatives as the 4-day work-week, telecommuting, and living closer to where you work. Rod Dreher (The Crunchy Conservative) and local food celeb Michael Pollan wonder the same thing:
POLLAN: There is this Joel Salatin, evangelical Christian, libertarian right-wing, but there are not a whole lot of them. Frankly, it baffles me that this growing food movement doesn’t have more support on the Right. It’s very consistent with libertarianism, and it is very consistent with family values. Nevertheless, it is often portrayed in the media as a white-wine-sipping, arugula-chopping, liberal politic.
Pollan notes that he gets the elitism charge from both the left and the right: the right reacts reflexively to critiques of the standard American diet, whereas the left says he wants to price the poor out of eating. Pollan objects:
...the fact is, eating healthy, carefully grown food in this country does cost more. But I think the focus has to be less on that than why the other food is so cheap. The reason is that it’s unfairly subsidized—from direct government subsidies in the form of crop subsidies to the kind of support of agribusiness that I was describing earlier to the fact that the companies growing this food are not required to pay the cost of the environmental damage they do. Did you know that if you’ve got a feedlot and you’re polluting local streams, the government will pay you to clean up your mess? That seems deeply unfair to someone trying to do it right.
It doesn't help that high-profile authors like David Korten wrap such basic human issues in leftist lingo that conservatives could never accept. These issues are too central to our physical and psychological well-being to remain the dominion of one-half of our political spectrum.

Growing your own food - a.k.a. farming - was once held in high esteem. The farmer took his rightful place alongside motherhood and apple pie. How far we have fallen, that calls for a renewed respect for farming are met with accusations of elitism.