Who’s a FOOD Candidate? How can we tell?



Since going live on August 14, 2012, Food Vote 2012: National U.S. Survey has received a wealth of responses, in number, variety, and degree of commentary. This has encouraged me to start blogging sooner rather than later, in the interests of sharing useful information.

A. It is not too late to talk to your Congressional candidates about FOOD. The general election (Nov. 6) is still 2.5 months away. In fact there are still 9 primaries to go:

Wyoming, August 21
Alaska, August 28
Arizona, August 28
Vermont, August 28
Massachusetts, September 6
Delaware, September 11
New Hampshire, September 11
Rhode Island, September 11
Louisiana, November 6

If you have not yet taken the survey, here is the link:
Food Vote 2012: National U.S. Survey

B. Some initial survey data as of August 20, 2012
Total # of responses: 91
# of States: 22
# of Congressional Food candidates suggested: 9
# of Congressional Food candidates actually identified: 1 (after vetting for candidacy, jurisdiction, and food plank)

Top collective actions favored for 2012:
FEDERAL FOOD POLICY
84 % favor
A “Community Food and Farm Bill” empowering and funding food councils at local, regional, and state levels

CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENT
61 % favor
Right to habitat, food, water, healthcare, education, etc.: Expand Bill of Rights to include more concrete language regarding “general welfare” or “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness”

OTHER COLLECTIVE ACTION
68% favor
Help funders and government officials understand why “community food and farm economies” is a high-impact funding area that can decrease or eliminate most other funding needs

C. How to tell if your Congressional candidates are FOOD candidates
My friends, neighbors, and family are still trying to understand my food system work. Even after 7 years, I’m still trying to explain. Mostly I think this is because food system work is new to everyone, so I’m always happy to try another explanation. Here goes.

Some weeks ago, when I shared plans for my national survey, my 80-year old uncle sent me the following email:

“How does a “Food Candidate” differ from his/her opponent?

“Like most people, we take our food supply for granted, though we complain about increased prices. We don’t have shortages. There are no candidates offering new ways to grow, manage supplies of or distribute food. I don’t see there being food issues in the upcoming election. Maybe things are different there [in Illinois] than here [in California].

“It seems to me, the main issues all over the country have to do with jobs, gridlock in government, the worldwide economic depression, etc. I think most election battles will be over those issues. I hope you can tell me what I’m missing in all this.”

Food Candidate Analysis (attachment). Attached is the answer that I will be sending to my Uncle Ray and Aunt Louise. It’s an analysis of the websites of 9 Congressional candidates vis-a-vis a FOOD platform. Analysis includes:
— Description of 9 candidate sample (Food Vote 2012 + Food Day Advisory Committee)
— Definition of FOOD Candidate
— Candidates’ website content
— Analysis: FOOD Candidate?

D. Are there any FOOD candidates in the 2012 Congressional election?

The good news is yes. The bad news is, “only one” so far.

If you don’t have time to read my entire analysis, check out Congressman Earl Blumenauer’s Food and Farm Bill of Rights. So far, Cong. Blumenauer is the only Congressional candidate that I would call a FOOD Candidate. I think his Bill of Rights is worth sharing widely, discussing, and adapting to any Congressional district. So far it’s the only comprehensive community-based food and farm campaign platform that I’ve seen. I believe It has the ability to start a productive conversation — in any district, in any jurisdiction.

Here’s the link to Cong. Blumenauer’s Food and Farm Bill of Rights

E. Other FOOD candidates running for Congress in 2012?
Let me know through the survey:
Food Vote 2012: National U.S. Survey