The Jan. 6 opinion section in the New York Times reveals just how divided America’s are when it comes to food justice. For some, the clock ticking on our planet means action needs to be taken now. For others, comparing an unjust food system to gun violence and slavery is going too far.
“We each make the choice three times a day whether to be part of this problem or part of the solution,” Ken Swenson of Pound Ridge, New York wrote. Taking offense with Mark Bittman’s idea that food justice advocates should wait patiently for reform, he added, “We can choose to support sustainable farming methods today. We can stop eating animals today.”
Bruce Friedrich, who is the senior director for strategy for national anti-animal abuse group Farm Sanctuary, agreed with Bittman’s calls for industrialized farm reform. He believes Americans need to wake up to the horrible conditions of our industrialized farming and food production methods. “Americans consume roughly nine billion land animals a year, and almost all of them are treated in ways that would warrant felony cruelty charges if they were dogs, cats or other animals who have legal protection from abuse,” he pointed out in his letter.
Not all, though, think that comparing the current state of America’s food system to slavery, gun violence and the right for women to vote is fair. In response to Mark Bittman’s claims that America’s food problems rival other great social issues faced by the country, Robert Paarlberg, a professor and author on a book on food justice thinks Bittman’s over the top claims ultimately detract from the food justice movement’s goal.
“This unbalanced framing will baffle reasonable readers,” Paarlberg stated. He thinks that such dramatic statements make it harder for the “food movement to achieve its worthy objectives on farm animal welfare and sugar-sweetened beverages.”