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Which Legislators Care the Most About Your Food?

  • by
  • November 4, 2012
  • 10:00 am
Which Legislators Care the Most About Your Food?

You may have read Michael Pollan’s recent essay published in the Food & Drink Issue of the New York Times Magazine about the significance of California’s Prop 37 initiative to the food movement at large. “Is this the year that the food movement finally enters politics?,” Pollan wonders. Is this the year that it will “engage in the hard politics of Washington — of voting with votes, not just forks”?

A new food advocacy group called Food Policy Action (FPA) has answered that call to arms, as it were. “There has never been a better time,” reads FPA’s blog, “to turn the food movement from a social and economic movement into a political force.”

FPA was launched on October 24 of this year, and it aims “to highlight the importance of food policy and to promote policies” that support a wide range of food-related causes. As Tom Laskawy explains on Grist, “The meat of the effort — and the thing that distinguishes it from other groups — has to do with the sometimes mind-numbing but essential subject of federal legislation.”

At its launch, FPA issued the first-ever National Food Policy Scorecard, enabling the public to hold members of Congress accountable for their positions on food policy. The Scorecard rates each member on 32 floor votes taken over the past two years. “The good news in the results is that consumers have plenty of champions in Congress on both sides of the aisle,” says FPA. “The bad news is that some of the most powerful members of Congress have the lowest scores.”

50 members of Congress received a perfect score of 100 percent — every single one of them Democrats but one — including Sen. Frank Lautenberg (NJ), Sen. Barbara Mikulski (MD), Sen. Barbara Boxer (CA), Sen. Ron Wyden (OR), Rep. Adam Schiff (CA), Rep. Gary Ackerman (NY) and Rep. Charles Rangel (NY).

How do your lawmakers fare? Find out here. The website allows you to search by politician or zip code and to browse by food-related bill to view the complete results for that vote.

Among GOP lawmakers who rank as friend more than foe to the food movement are Sens. Susan Collins and Olympia Snowe of Maine, Sen. Scott Brown of Massachusetts and Rep. Charlie Dent of Pennsylvania.

Some of the worst-scoring, prominent members of the House and Senate include House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA), Sen. Roy Blunt (R-MO) and Rep. Steven Stivers (R-OH).

FPA’s Board of Directors features some familiar names and organizations, including Tom Colicchio (celebrity chef), Gary Hirshberg (co-founder and chairman of Stonyfield Farm), Wayne Pacelle (CEO and president of Humane Society of the United States), Ray Offenheiser (president of Oxfam America), Michael Jacobson (executive director of Center of Science in the Public Interest) and Ken Cook (president of Environmental Working Group).

The importance of the work that Food Policy Action has set out for itself can’t be underestimated, and you’ll learn a lot from the information they’ve published on the website. “The FPA will be keeping an eye on our elected leaders on behalf of the voters who sent them to Washington,” said Offenheiser in a press release. And now, Cook adds, Americans “can actually vote for lawmakers who have stood with them, not with big food or industrial agriculture.”

On November 6, California residents will be counted on to jumpstart the political movement behind food by voting “yes” on Prop 37.


Related Stories:

Celebrity Chefs Join The 2012 Farm Bill Food Fight

The Farm Bill: What Does It Mean for Food Crises?

A New Food Policy for Canada?


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8:15AM PST on Nov 12, 2012

BTW - I just moved from IA to IN and HOW IN THE HELL did Donnelly and Grassley score as high as they did???

I've written to BOTH these Clowns and their responses have been SOLIDLY in favor of the GMO foods. They defend all the tactics of their corporate sponsors!!

So who is checking the checkers? Looks like sending more mail is in my future.

8:10AM PST on Nov 12, 2012

Usual Elaine fodderal! Lady, are you comfortable here or do you just Relish your position as Troll-in-Chief?

11:23AM PST on Nov 11, 2012

Truly not sure. Do we think either really cares?

7:56AM PST on Nov 11, 2012


7:24AM PST on Nov 11, 2012

Thank you for sharing.

5:30AM PST on Nov 11, 2012


6:45AM PST on Nov 8, 2012

Milkulski's always great to write to---both with form letters and independent thought letters---I get real response to letters I pen myself...and unlike Harris (UGH!) we agree on every topic!!

4:51PM PST on Nov 7, 2012


6:11PM PST on Nov 6, 2012

I knew before I looked at the list that McCain, Kyl, and Gosar wouldn't rate very high. They have an abysmal record for the environment, women's rights, and anything else that would actually be good for people and the country. They're just corporate lackeys. Bah!

2:17PM PST on Nov 6, 2012

Wow to even ask! I live in a blue state and constantly read and watch my democratic legislatures try, sometimes under great odds to defend clean air , water and safe food. The only thing I see republicans doing is trying to stop them.

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