Ask a dozen food activists what political change they want to see in 2013 and you’ll get a dozen different answers, maybe two dozen: Restrict sodium in packaged foods. Label genetically modified ingredients. End subsidies to big farms.
All are critical. But I couldn’t see any of those getting a bunch of tattooed chefs or idealistic college kids or suburban moms, let alone all of them, to lobby their member of Congress. But there was one thing that might: Getting antibiotics off the farm and out of the food supply.
According to the Food and Drug Administration, 80 percent of all antibiotics sold in the United States — about 28.8 million pounds — are given to animals that are raised for food. Most of those animals are perfectly healthy, but they receive regular doses of medicine to make them grow faster, to make up for cramped conditions on industrial farms. Those two “benefits” are part of how producers keep the price of meat cheap. The problem is that antibiotic overuse breeds drug-resistant superbugs that can move from animals to people in numerous ways, including via the meat we eat.
In this month’s Smarter Food column, I argue that food activists should and can–and should–come together to push Congress to ban antibiotics on big farms. The move would keep antibiotics working for humans and go a long way to cleaning up factory farms. Read the full column here. Or let me know what you think will bring food activists together.
Here’s to better food in 2013.