Live Well
July 2018

What our Agricultural System Says About Us

I am writing this blog post on July 4th, the day we commemorate the signing of the Declaration of Independence, in which it was affirmed that, “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.” This made me think about the values this country was built on and espouses, and how they relate to our agricultural system.

When I consider recent proposed legislation relating to food and farming, it seems that we have strayed from many of our fundamental values. America’s agricultural system relies on 1.5 to 2 million immigrant workers to produce the food we need. The Agricultural Guestworker Act (H.R. 4092) in the House right now does not provide enough farmworkers to meet farmers’ labor needs, and reduces benefits and wages for farmworkers. In addition, the 2018 Farm Bill that was put forward in the House of Representatives seeks to cut food assistance programs and put almost 2 million people – including children and the elderly – at increased risk of food insecurity. Furthermore, many of the subsidies in the Farm Bill go to large farms, at the expense of small ones. As Congressman Earl Blumenauer noted in a recent article, “Sadly, our current food and farm policies fail to meet the needs of the American people. We pay too much to the wrong people to grow the wrong food in the wrong places. The federal government spends an exorbitant amount of taxpayer dollars to help the wealthiest and most powerful agriculture operations get bigger and more profitable. Recent data shows that the bill’s high dollar farm subsidy programs paid the same 28,000 farmers $19 billion for 32 straight years.” (

What does this legislation say about us: that we value large corporations at the expense of individuals? That we won’t support people who work in extremely difficult conditions to provide the food that nourishes us? That we are unwilling to ensure that everyone in our society has access to healthy food? It seems that all these run counter to the ideals our country was founded on.

If you, like me, think that these are not the values that America should stand for, here are a few things you can do:

  • Tell your Members of Congress where you stand on the Farm Bill and the Agricultural Guestworker Act.
  • Remember that your dollars can be very powerful in supporting your values. Purchase products that support your values.
  • Support small, local farms and farmers markets who work hard to grow healthy, nutritious food.


Cook Well

Summery White Bean & Vegetable Soup

This white bean soup is light and colorful and can be served with a simple green salad to make a perfect summer’s dinner.

1lb. dried white beans, soaked overnight (or 4 cups cooked)
4 tablespoons olive oil
2 cups chopped yellow onion
2 cups diced carrots
2 cups diced fennel
2 cups green beans, trimmed and cut into 1-inch pieces
1 teaspoon chopped garlic
8 to 10 cups vegetable stock
2 cups frozen peas, thawed
4 tablespoons chopped parsley
2 tablespoons chopped mint
Pinch of red pepper flakes
Grated zest of 1 lemon
Sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper
  1. 1.If using dried white beans, put them in a pot with 1 onion, 1 bay leaf, 1 sprig of rosemary. Cover with cold water. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat and let cook for about 1 to 11/2 hours, until soft. Drain the beans and discard the onion, bay leaf and rosemary.
  2. 2. Heat the olive oil in a medium pot over medium heat. Add the onions, carrots, fennel, green beans, and garlic and sauté until onions are translucent and vegetable are softened, 5 to 10 minutes.
  3. 3. Add the stock and peas to the pot. Bring to a boil then reduce the heat and let simmer until the vegetables are soft, about 15 minutes.
  4. 4. Add the white beans and simmer an additional 5 minutes.
  5. 5. Add the parsley, mint, red pepper flakes and lemon zest. Mix well and season with salt and pepper.



Articles of Interest:

I highly recommend reading this heart-wrenching article on the inhumane conditions many workers in the food industry face. This is a great opportunity to demand change by voting with your dollars. CHECK OUT THE ARTICLE HERE: and a link to Oxfam’s Behind the Barcode campaign here:

The last paragraph of this article says it best: “The irony is that the soda companies screamed very loudly about government overreach when soda taxes began to get passed,” said Kelly Brownell, the dean of the Sanford School of Public Policy at Duke University. “But now they are looking for the ultimate government overreach when it works in their favor.” READ ARTICLE

If the majority of Americans would like to know whether their foods contain GMOs why is the government making it so easy for them not to? READ ARTICLE

It is critical for consumers to know where their food is coming from because, as this article demonstrates, many companies lack the integrity to do the right thing. READ ARTICLE

I’ve been reading a lot about straws lately. Here are two articles that are very worthwhile: READ ARTICLES:–they-can-be-bad-for-your-body/2018/07/02/d682fdfe-7964-11e8-aeee-