April 16, 2021

What Is Food Policy

Food Policy is the very spine of our food system. It’s how governments actions design food systems. These actions happen at all levels of government, federal, state, local and at times the may not be aligned with one another. Such policies shape what types of crops are grown, how much food will cost, and what to do with the excess. An example of such actions by the executive or administrative branches of government is in Maryland’s  dept. of agriculture issuing regulations which require any produce marketed as “locally grown,” etc. to provide the state of origin and if such regulation isn’t in compliance then be prepared to fork over up to $500 for violations.


When discussing federal food policy, always think of the all encompassing, “FARM BILL.” This bill is the cornerstone of the united states food policy. Something which seventy-five percent or more goes toward the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program better known as “FOOD STAMPS.” Many people in the United States have been provided access to healthy food through such federal legislations. in addition, school systems benefits from the “Child Nutrition Authorization” which funds the national School Lunch Program(NSLP) and School Breakfast Program(SNP).



Even though federal legislation has developed policies which benefit the nation it doesn’t restrict the lower levels of government from further developing policies which could either mirror the FED or contradict. For example, the federal Environmental Protection Agency found Glyphosate, “not likely to be carcinogenic to humans,” yet the state of California’s EPA has added Glyphosate to its list of carcinogenic chemicals(Proposition 65). While the FED has control over all interstate sells of food the states have regulatory say so of food policies within their borders.There is importance in knowing your states policies. Local foods such as fruits and veggies in addition to “value added” prepared foods such as, jams, chocolates, and baked goods made outside of commercial kitchens fall under cottage food laws. Some states like Wyoming recently loosened regulations through what they call “Food Freedom” allowing exemptions from licensing, permitting, certification, packaging and label regulations. However, the food has to be sold to an “informed-end consumer.” That allows you to take the permissive path for your venture and all that’s required is educating you customer, that’s very cool.


In every area of life there exist a frontline and it’s where the grassroots break ground. The policies which we come to know of began with what I like to call, “laborers of change.” These are individuals who innovate and experiment. Policies piloted at local levels served as blueprints for state and federal policy changes. Do you remember the first time you were in McDonald’s and noticed the calories for each meal item? That’s because of local level created policies for labeling of calories on fast food menus, banning the use of trans fat and increasing the value of SNAP benefits when used at farmers markets.



We can’t know where to begin nor envision an end in mind unless we begin to take action. By educating one another of the most fundamental knowledge with regards to food policy in our communities we contribute to change at all level. let your mind wrestle with these words of the World Health Organization, “The enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of health is one of the fundamental rights of every human being without distinction of race, religion, political belief, economic, or social condition,” said to be a critical element of good food policy. BUT WHAT DO YOU THINK?


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