Photo by Donna Turner Ruhlman


I want to call attention to an op-ed by Mark Bittman in the New York Times last week, headlined “What Is the Purpose of Society?” because it’s particularly incisive. He rightly asks us to reconsider how we think about the production and distribution of our food. He calls on us to ask the right questions: What is the purpose of agriculture? And he asks that we come to a common agreement on what that purpose is.

He writes:

“… [I]s contemporary American agriculture a system for nourishing people and providing a livelihood for farmers? Or is it one for denuding the nation’s topsoil while poisoning land, water, workers and consumers and enriching corporations? Our collective actions would indicate that our principles favor the latter; that has to change.

“…[i]f we had a national agreement that food is not just a commodity, a way to make money, but instead a way to nourish people and the planet and a means to safeguard our future, we could begin to reconfigure the system for that purpose.

“[C]orporations and not governments … are determining how the world works. As unrepresentative as government might seem right now, there is at least a chance of improving it, whereas corporations will always act in their own interests.”

In other words, what we need is clear thinking and, more important, better leaders, leaders who are not beholden to Big Money.

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© 2015 Michael Ruhlman. Photo © 2015 Donna Turner Ruhlman. All rights reserved.