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Actually, Kathleen Merrigan is the new Deputy Secretary of Agriculture, not the new organic sheriff. Regardless of the title, there is real hope in this agency choice. It looks like Food Democracy Now’s “Sustainable Dozen” petition drive to influence positive change at the USDA has paid off.

Following up on my organic food post of a couple of days ago, I felt this information was important to share with you. Kathleen Merrigan is currently the director of the Agriculture, Food, and Environment Program at Tufts University near Boston. As a staff member on the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry, she was instrumental in developing the Organic Foods Production Act of 1990, which created national standards for organic food. She also served as administrator of the USDA Agriculture Marketing Service from 1999 to 2001, overseeing the agency’s organic food program.

Right now there are lots of loopholes in food standards, a lack of uniformity in marketing and label claims, and consumer confusion over food definitions (grass-fed, natural, raised without antibiotics, etc.). Hopefully Kathleen can help clarify standards, promote sustainable food systems, support organic farmers, and fight the good food fight. Go Kathleen!

Stay tuned, more to come on food policy, hope and change.
Melissa

6 Responses to “new organic sheriff”

  1. Lo says:

    Lots of hope tied up in Kathleen’s new deputy-ship. We’ve made some good progress, now I’m hoping she can keep the ball rolling!

  2. greedydave says:

    Melissa,
    I really do hope that Kathleen delivers what you want of her.
    To begin with, she has a vested interest in the political field in which she’s being asked to work, which is a darned sight more that we get over here.
    Lo and Melissa, just remember that you are her boss, not the other way around.

    GDave

  3. I like the term “organic sheriff.” It is much more dynamic and hopeful than the “peace officer” pulled off the street and sworn in during troubling times who basically just provides a presence (often with a weapon). Anyway, hope that we get a lot more of what we need from that dept. If we want health reform, looking at what we eat is one place we should start.

    Shirley

  4. Oh, and I don’t know if you have heard, but Drs. Mehmet Oz, Andrew Weil, and Mark Hyman (author of Ultramind Solution and more) spoke before a Senate Hearing Committee yesterday designed to bring reform to the health care system. That’s a very good thing as all of them are focused on the health benefits of eating properly.

    Shirley

  5. Melissa says:

    Lo,

    We’ll keep our collective fingers crossed and “hope” for the best. It’s a start.

    GDave,

    Good point about who is boss! Politicians don’t normally see it that way. Grrrrr!

  6. Melissa says:

    Shirley,

    Thanks for the comments and I’ll look for the Senate Hearing information. I appreciate you tipping me off!

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