I am a grand mother from Bremerton, Washington. I am someone who's interested in community gardens, environmental justice, composting, and eating more delicious and nutritious food, I think about food issues a lot. I'm very concerned about the consolidation of power in the agricultural and food processing sectors, for a number of important reasons:
Our food supply is not safe. Through my professional awareness, I firmly believe that it's just a matter of time before a major outbreak of a food-borne illness hits. I feel completely powerless here. I can choose to grow my own (which I did some this summer, but I am a working girl with a long commute!) and choose to shop at the local farmers' markets (this was easy over the summer when there was a once a week market near my office; it's much harder in the winter.), and try to frequent restaurants that use local produce... But that's not enough to keep me safe from a widespread epidemic. I can do some of those things some of the time, but I can't do all of them all the time, so I feel like a sitting duck.
It seems that food prices are set by just a few companies. I watch prices rise, and feel there's really nothing I can do about it. My food budget is stretched. I don't like to imagine what it's like to feed a family.
Finally, food from the large grocery stores tastes like nothing. I heard groundbreaking urban farming entrepreneur and MacArthur genius grant winner Will Allen speak recently. He said that much of the imported food we eat is simply cellulose, and I believe it. The food I get at local farmers' markets is always tastier and fresher, but I don't always have time to go to them, and they're more expensive. I'd like to be able to get fresh, local food at my supermarket, but there doesn't seem to be a way for the small farmers to get their products into these big chains.
Thank you for the opportunity to express my concern on this matter. I look forward to following this investigation in the coming year.