Francis Thicke, who ran unsuccessfully as Iowa’s Secretary of Agriculture. The election results provide some insights into how a variety of issues–like taxes and spending on education, for example–could go. But they tell us very little about how food issues might be decided.

We do have a few more clues than usual, though. One prime example comes out of Iowa. There, the race for agriculture secretary became something of a cause celebre among foodies, with Francis Thicke attracting endorsements and support from around the country (including this blog). The result? He was roundly defeated by a Big Ag guy who has heaped praise on the state’s wonderful egg industry (which has sickened many hundreds of people around the country with salmonella).

There was discussion following my previous post about new uncertainty created in Ohio, and the possibility the new governor, a big business guy, will support Big Ag, and resume the state’s notorious enforcement history against raw milk. Remember, the current State offensive against raw milk might be seen as having launched in March 2006, when Kentucky farmer Gary Oaks was forcibly detained and so intensively questioned in a Cincinnati parking lot by agents from four or five federal and state agencies that he collapsed from the stress and had to be hospitalized

The reality is that most people, including legislators and judges, are woefully uninformed about food issues. Iowa voters likely felt out of their league in committing to a new view of food, and so most went with the tried and, unfortunately, untrue–that being, leave food matters to the “experts,” the wonderful professionals at the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and the Centers for Disease Control and the masters many serve in Big Ag.

We have no idea how politicians stand on food and public health issues, likely because they have no idea. We have to make inferences, of the type in Ohio.

On the positive side, the fact that food issues are even being raised in election races is new, and hopefully the beginning of a trend. On the negative side, it’s clear we have a long way to go. And Big Ag would no doubt like to keep things that way, so it can foment fear and uncertainty as the occasion demands.
How does food processing affect thinking in the world of nutrition? It doesn’t, and that’s a big part of the food problem. Interesting assessment here.