Thursday, May 3, 2012

NICOLETTE NIMAN on MORE SUSTAINABLE FORMS OF AGRICULTURE, FOOD BEYOND FACTORY FARMS. Food Revolution Summit

NICOLETTE NIMAN, first speaker on the 6th day. Thursday, May 3, 2012.

Healthy, Humane Food for Everybody (what we all want and should fight for, we have the power to make a change)
                                                                VS.

UNhealthy, INhumane Food for all of us (what is going on today in our society is
killing us)

I say, we need to demand our rights to the government to eat healthy and reliable food! -We need to be educated and see what really happens to husbandry behind the scenes.


Words from the Food Revolution Summit:

Our first interview today was with Nicolette Hahn Niman, a vegetarian cattle rancher.  I know, those words don’t often go together.  But it’s true!  As senior attorney for the organization Waterkeeper, Nicolette exposed and prosecuted the environmental devastation caused by factory farms. 
Now Nicolette and her husband, Bill, run a small organic ranch. The author of Righteous Porkchop:  Finding a Life and Good Food Beyond Factory Farms, Nicolette knows the meat industry from the inside out, and has some compelling observations to share.
“In the beginning of the twentieth century a typical dairy farm had about 20 cows. Today many dairy farms in the United States have over 10,000…  The animals were essentially brought indoors, brought in off the grass, they were separated from grass  and from natural environments and they were kept in very large and very crowded  herds and flocks.”
“We are all citizens… and so we owe it to ourselves and to future generations to be demanding that our governments are actually encouraging good farming practices and farming and food production methods that produce healthy safe food and food that we feel comfortable eating and feeding to our children.”
“(My eeling) is that meat and other foods from animals is something that you  don’t have to be consuming nearly as often as most Americans are. But if you are going to consume it, it’s something you should make sure  is produced in the best possible way.”
Next we turned out attention to food justice.  In the US and many developed nations, consumption of highly processed sugar-laden “junk” foods, white flour, unhealthy fats, and artificial chemicals is highest in low-income communities. Not surprisingly, these same communities suffer from  disproportionate rates of cancer, heart disease, diabetes, and many other health ailments.
Ocean Robbins: Welcome to The Food Revolution Summit where we explore how you can heal your body and your world with food.  This is Ocean Robbins and I am joined now by my dad, John Robbins in welcome our guest Nicolette Hahn Niman.  Nicolette is an attorney and livestock rancher.  She is a passionate advocate for sustainable food production.  She’s written the book Righteous Pork Chop: Finding a Life and Good Food Beyond Factory Farms.  She’s also a frequent contributor to the New York Times.  She has served as senior attorney for the environmental organization Waterkeeper where she was in charge of the organization’s campaign to reform the concentrated livestock and poultry industry.  Nicolette is passionate about changing the way farm animals are raised and the way that Americans eat.  She’s an inspired advocate for CFAs, school lunch revamp, school gardens, networks of pasture-based farms and farm-to-table restaurants.  Nicolette is part of a movement to reform food and agriculture and to help people to take the food system into their own hands.  We are so excited to be talking with you and here to interview you, Nicolette, is my dad John Robbins.
John Robbins: Thank you Ocean and Nicolette welcome.  I loved your book, Righteous Pork Chop, and I want to thank you for writing it.
John Robbins: It’s really an honor to have this conversation with you and hopefully alert our listeners to this important work.  What can they do?  What can our listeners do to help?
Nicolette Hahn Niman:  I think one thing that happens, one thing that I’ve seen many times over the last decade is a sense that people often have that this problem is so big that they can’t really do anything about it.  A lot of times there’s a feeling of, “I agree with what you’re saying, I don’t like this either.”  And actually I get this a lot of time from people within the agricultural community, people who are kind of bought into the more industrial model often say, “You know I actually really agree with what you’re saying but I don’t see any other way.” 
A lot of what I’ve been trying to do over the last decade in my writings and in my speaking and everything is to try to help illuminate that path to a better form of food production, to a better form agriculture and especially a better way of raising animals.  I think that everybody, I mean people that are involved with agriculture have a huge role that they can play and transitioning into more sustainable forms of agriculture.  But I think every person you know unlike most other sort of social issues, food is something that all of us are very directly connected to.  So we have two different ways, and they are both very important, we can affect this.  First of all we are all citizens of this country and so we owe it to ourselves and to future generations to be demanding that our government is actually encouraging good farming practices and farming and food production methods that produce healthy safe food and food that we feel comfortable eating and feeding to our children.
  
I think just the public policy side of this is something that is incredibly important.  For example there has been a law introduced in Congress for about 10 years, year after year it gets reintroduced and it’s a law that would limit the overuse of antibiotics in the animal agriculture.  It doesn’t say, “You can’t use them” but it would reduce the usage significantly because you couldn’t continually add it to animal feed.  This has been the law in the European Union for a long time.  Every public health official knows that this should be the law.  But the pharmaceutical companies and the agribusinesses have stopped this from getting passed.  Every citizen should be telling their Congress person and their senator that they want them to support that law.  That’s a perfect example of the kind of thing that we can do as citizens.  

Now on the other side of the coin we’re all consumers and again this is really unique to this food issue.  We have a tremendous amount of power.  You might buy a pair of running shoes once every 16 months or something, but you buy food for everyday consumption.  You buy it maybe more than maybe a couple of times a week even you’re buying food.  You go to the grocery store and you’re going to restaurants as well.  I think at that occasion every time we buy food we are voting for one food system or another.  While it’s difficult to completely change your habits and start buying differently and shopping differently overnight, I think all of us can begin examining what we are eating, how it was produced and what we maybe should be eating and how can we support the kind of agriculture and food system that we want this country to have through our buying decisions and through the restaurants that we frequent. I think we actually have a lot of power as individuals to influence this issue and it’s something we absolutely should exercise.

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