Cultural Encounters: A Journal For The Theology Of Culture Volume 11 Number 2 (Summer 2016) - Page 34

FOOD FIGHT CONFERENCE PLENARY 2 - Finberg & panelists homegrown nature of the folk here in the Pacific Northwest, we have a fabulous new farmer’s website where all of the resources have been compiled to help folks who are interested in pickling their own carrots and taking it to the next level and selling them at the farmer’s market. Well, if you are one of those folks, let’s get started. And you can look at the basics; you can do a video; you can find my colleges that are closest to you through our service centers. You can connect with, in this case, Oregon State’s extension service. They can help with soil testing for your backyard garden. Since 1862, in addition to creating the Department of Agriculture, we have created a public good that is the envy of the world. We created the Land Grant University System. In exchange for the federal grant of some land, the university of your state—Cornell University in my home state of New York, University of Maryland or Oregon State or Iowa State or otherwise—has to provide a public good. You have to provide access to the current science, the latest technology, the information that would benefit farmers and ranchers most, like integrative pest management or the soil testing: all of this information is there. And then, you want to find out about a business plan or how to market or otherwise? All of that is possible. I mention that because this is a great resource for anything, food and agriculture connected. And so to demystify it a little: usda.gov. You can even take a look and see more about MyPlate. Choosemyplate.gov is one of the most visited websites in all of government. And you can do a super tracker. You can do what other diet and health sites charge you money for. You can track and see what you are consuming and how much of this nutrient you are getting. And that is one of the neat things about the First Lady Michelle Obama’s effort around Let’s Move, trying to address the epidemic of childhood obesity with healthier food in our schools and elsewhere as well as physical activity; that’s another cool one. Let me take a few minutes to go through seven different “buckets” or areas in which the Department of Agriculture works and why it matters to this conversation and to our lives. I’ll start with our Natural Resources and Environment. I’ll do the breakdown for you: Natural Resources and Environment is one, big “bucket.” And I’ll break these down. The Food, Nutrition, and Consumer Services is another. Third is the Farm and Foreign Agriculture Services. Fourth is the Food Safety and Inspection Service. Fifth is the Marketing and Regulatory Programs. Sixth is Rural Development. And then seventh is our Research Education and Economics “bucket.” So those are the breadth of USDA. That’s one of the largest departments in federal government. We have about ninety-four thousand colleges. It’s not in terms of the budget; but it is in terms of staff and the footprint. We are in almost every county in the United States of America and almost a hundred countries around the world. 31