Monday, October 13, 2008

The NYT on food

The NYT Magazine's subject this week is food, a topic that's nice to see covered in the Times, since it's an issue around which liberals and libertarians have common cause. The main article is about government food policy as it relates to the environment, health, and energy, and while much of the article recognizes the anti-libertarian policies that exacerbate America's addiction to high-calorie, low-nutrition foods, I can't help but think that the author doesn't spend nearly enough space discussing them. While he mentions some government distortions that I didn't even know about – after WWII, the government "encouraged the conversion of the munitions industry to fertilizer" – his list of remedies is heavy on the feel-good liberal policies that don't seem like they'd really do much, or are kludges to a problem that could be fixed with outright legislative repeal. Included on this list are such symbolic measures as putting more importance on the White House chef and converting parts of the White House lawn to modern-day "victory gardens." Also, the author digs into the dark underbelly of land use policy, and advocates "agricultural enterprise zones" and wants developers to have to write "food-system impact statements." But couldn't his ultimate goal – more farmland – be achieved in a more libertarian way, by say limiting the amount of zoning- and parking regulation-inspired low density sprawl that encroaches on farmland?

It's as if in the first half of the article, the author lays the blame at the feet of government for interfering with energy, transportation, and food policy, but then in the second half of the article, he tries to redeem himself to the liberal NYT crowd with wishy-washy crowd-pleasers like locovorism and giving food stamp recipients half price access to farmers' markets.

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

It's as if in the first half of the article, the author lays the blame at the feet of government for interfering with energy, transportation, and food policy, but then in the second half of the article, he tries to redeem himself to the liberal NYT crowd with wishy-washy crowd-pleasers like locovorism and giving food stamp recipients half price access to farmers' markets.

Yawn. Read a few of his books. Then get back to us and correct the italicized.

DS

Raționalitate said...

Hm? I don't understand...