The Real Challenge for the Organic Food Industry

food-insecurity

I listened last week as Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack addressed the Organic Trade Association’s annual policy conference in Washington, D.C.

It wasn’t surprising to listen to the Secretary wade through a checklist of initiatives his agency has undertaken to build an organic food system in the United States. After all, that’s what political officials do; emphasize all the ways they are working to support the people in their audience.

Then, the Secretary switched gears.

“There are 17 million children in this nation–the richest nation in the world, the most powerful nation in the world–who live in food insecure homes. These are children, whose parents who are making some very difficult decisions in order to put food on the table.”

An odd forum for that comment? Not at all.

For too long people have framed food discussions in terms of organic food vs. enough food. That’s the wrong conversation. Feeding a family on limited dollars isn’t just an issue of providing enough calories each day, it’s a challenge in trying to provide healthy calories. Obesity among children in lower income homes demonstrates that the calories their parents can afford are too often cheap, empty calories.

Expanding access to healthy organic food to more households should certainly be one of the main goals of the organic food and farming sector as its leaders continue to work to build their businesses.

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