sâmbătă, 5 septembrie 2015

Conservatorismul chimic şi stânga organică

Cică “Herbalife te ajuta sa slabesti eliminand cauzele care au dus la ingrasare” (http://www.program-de-slabit.ro/?pk_campaign=google&pk_kwd=ph&gclid=CMPXkpD838cCFRQTGwod6YUDTw). Cauzele ar fi identificate în “obiceiurile alimentare defectuoase”. În mod curios, printre promotorii produselor Herbalife se numără şi cuplul Neamţu (vezi https://prezi.com/llr5xsurxxdk/poti-si-tu/  precum şi la https://www.facebook.com/AdinaIoanaPlesa). Ce este curios aici este că dl Neamţu ar trebui să ştie mai bine care sunt adevăratele cauze ale obezităţii occidentale şi în ce măsură economia neoliberală pe care o susţine este adevăratul vinovat al acestei maladii moderne, după cum se poate vedea din fragmentele pe care le-am citat mai jos. Cu toate acestea, preferă să-i ţină pe oameni la fel de departe de adevăratele cauze ale îmbolnăvirii şi prin urmare, de adevăratele surse ale însănătoşirii lor.


The dream that the age-old “food problem” had been largely solved for most Americans was sustained by the tremendous postwar increases in the productivity of American farmers, made possible by cheap fossil fuel (the key ingredient in both chemical fertilizers and pesticides) and changes in agricultural policies. Asked by President Nixon to try to drive down the cost of food after it had spiked in the early 1970s, Agriculture Secretary Earl Butz shifted the historical focus of federal farm policy from supporting prices for farmers to boosting yields of a small handful of commodity crops (corn and soy especially) at any cost. The administration’s cheap food policy worked almost too well: crop prices fell, forcing farmers to produce still more simply to break even. This led to a deep depression in the farm belt in the 1980s followed by a brutal wave of consolidation. Most importantly, the price of food came down, or at least the price of the kinds of foods that could be made from corn and soy: processed foods and sweetened beverages and feedlot meat. (Prices for fresh produce have increased since the 1980s.) Washington had succeeded in eliminating food as a political issue—an objective dear to most governments at least since the time of the French Revolution.
But although cheap food is good politics, it turns out there are significant costs—to the environment, to public health, to the public purse, even to the culture—and as these became impossible to ignore in recent years, food has come back into view. Beginning in the late 1980s, a series of food safety scandals opened people’s eyes to the way their food was being produced, each one drawing the curtain back a little further on a food system that had changed beyond recognition. When BSE, or mad cow disease, surfaced in England in 1986, Americans learned that cattle, which are herbivores, were routinely being fed the flesh of other cattle; the practice helped keep meat cheap but at the risk of a hideous brain-wasting disease.
The 1993 deaths of four children in Washington State who had eaten hamburgers from Jack in the Box were traced to meat contaminated with E.coli 0157:H7, a mutant strain of the common intestinal bacteria first identified in feedlot cattle in 1982. Since then, repeated outbreaks of food-borne illness linked to new antibiotic-resistant strains of bacteria (campylobacter, salmonella, MRSA) have turned a bright light on the shortsighted practice of routinely administering antibiotics to food animals, not to treat disease but simply to speed their growth and allow them to withstand the filthy and stressful conditions in which they live. In the wake of these food safety scandals, the conversation about food politics that briefly flourished in the 1970s was picked up again in a series of books, articles, and movies about the consequences of industrial food production.Beginning in 2001 with the publication of Eric Schlosser’s Fast Food Nation, a surprise best-seller, and, the following year, Marion Nestle’s Food Politics, the food journalism of the last decade has succeeded in making clear and telling connections between the methods of industrial food production, agricultural policy, food-borne illness, childhood obesity, the decline of the family meal as an institution, and, notably, the decline of family income beginning in the 1970s.
Besides drawing women into the work force, falling wages made fast food both cheap to produce and a welcome, if not indispensable, option for pinched and harried families. The picture of the food economy Schlosser painted resembles an upside-down version of the social compact sometimes referred to as “Fordism”: instead of paying workers well enough to allow them to buy things like cars, as Henry Ford proposed to do, companies like Wal-Mart and McDonald’s pay their workers so poorly that they can afford only the cheap, low-quality food these companies sell, creating a kind of nonvirtuous circle driving down both wages and the quality of food. The advent of fast food (and cheap food in general) has, in effect, subsidized the decline of family incomes in America.
Cheap food has become an indispensable pillar of the modern economy. But it is no longer an invisible or uncontested one. One of the most interesting social movements to emerge in the last few years is the “food movement,” or perhaps I should say “movements,” since it is unified as yet by little more than the recognition that industrial food production is in need of reform because its social/environmental/public health/animal welfare/gastronomic costs are too high.
But perhaps the food movement’s strongest claim on public attention today is the fact that the American diet of highly processed food laced with added fats and sugars is responsible for the epidemic of chronic diseases that threatens to bankrupt the health care system. The Centers for Disease Control estimates that fully three quarters of US health care spending goes to treat chronic diseases, most of which are preventable and linked to diet: heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes, and at least a third of all cancers. The health care crisis probably cannot be addressed without addressing the catastrophe of the American diet, and that diet is the direct (even if unintended) result of the way that our agriculture and food industries have been organized. 
(Michael Pollan, "The Food Movement, Rising", The New York Review Of Books, June 10, 2010, http://www.nybooks.com/articles/archives/2010/jun/10/food-movement-rising/)


După ce îl îngraşă cu forţa pe om, neoliberalismul îl slăbeşte tot în mod artificial. Nu-l repune în relaţie cu natura, cu mediul, cu acea realitatea care îi poate reda echilibrul, ci îi reformulează/reformează relaţia sa cu piaţa, îl transformă pe om dintr-un tip de consumator în alt tip de consumator, de la consumatorul de hamburgeri la consumatorul de pliculeţe şi shake-uri „naturale”. În loc să reformeze piaţa, neoconservatorul refomează omul, dându-i aparent un rol nou. Pentru că, în realitate, omul nou al neoconservatorului este doar un consumator nou. În esenţă, el rămâne şi trebuie să rămână, pentru a fi "mântuit", un consumator.  În felul acesta, piaţa, adică biserica neoliberală, este salvată: banii continuă să sprijine industria nutriţionistă, care prosperă în relaţie şi cu contribuţia necesară a industriei de junk-food. Te poţi îngrăşa, după cum poţi şi slăbi, doar în mod corporatist. Şi cel ce mănâncă pentru Piaţă mănâncă, căci mulţumeşte Pieţei; şi cel ce nu mănâncă pentru Piaţă nu mănâncă, şi mulţumeşte Pieţei. Mercatus sive Deus.
Probabil că doar în România este posibil să fii de partea marilor corporaţii, să susţii că piaţa liberă reprezintă ordinea naturală şi cu toate acestea să fii considerat conservator. Dacă asemenea comportamente sunt văzute ca semne de normalitate, atunci nu pot decât să prefer o stângă democrată precum cea practicată de actualul cuplu prezidenţial american, care a demonstrat o surprinzătoare consecvenţă în privinţa regândirii politicii agricole americane (chiar dacă „while the administration may be sympathetic to elements of the food movement’s agenda, it isn’t about to take on agribusiness, at least not directly, at least until it senses at its back a much larger constituency for reform”):

Michelle Obama’s recent foray into food politics, beginning with the organic garden she planted on the White House lawn last spring, suggests that the administration has made these connections. Her new “Let’s Move” campaign to combat childhood obesity might at first blush seem fairly anodyne, but in announcing the initiative in February, and in a surprisingly tough speech to the Grocery Manufacturers Association in March, the First Lady has effectively shifted the conversation about diet from the industry’s preferred ground of “personal responsibility” and exercise to a frank discussion of the way food is produced and marketed. “We need you not just to tweak around the edges,” she told the assembled food makers, “but to entirely rethink the products that you’re offering, the information that you provide about these products, and how you market those products to our children.”
Mrs. Obama explicitly rejected the conventional argument that the food industry is merely giving people the sugary, fatty, and salty foods they want, contending that the industry “doesn’t just respond to people’s natural inclinations—it also actually helps to shape them,” through the ways it creates products and markets them.
So far at least, Michelle Obama is the food movement’s most important ally in the administration, but there are signs of interest elsewhere. Under Commissioner Margaret Hamburg, the FDA has cracked down on deceptive food marketing and is said to be weighing a ban on the nontherapeutic use of antibiotics in factory farming. Attorney General Eric Holder recently avowed the Justice Department’s intention to pursue antitrust enforcement in agribusiness, one of the most highly concentrated sectors in the economy. At his side was Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, the former governor of Iowa, who has planted his own organic vegetable garden at the department and launched a new “Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food” initiative aimed at promoting local food systems as a way to both rebuild rural economies and improve access to healthy food.
Though Vilsack has so far left mostly undisturbed his department’s traditional deference to industrial agriculture, the new tone in Washington and the appointment of a handful of respected reformers (such as Tufts professor Kathleen Merrigan as deputy secretary of agriculture) has elicited a somewhat defensive, if not panicky, reaction from agribusiness. The Farm Bureau recently urged its members to go on the offensive against “food activists,” and a trade association representing pesticide makers called CropLife America wrote to Michelle Obama suggesting that her organic garden had unfairly maligned chemical agriculture and encouraging her to use “crop protection technologies”—i.e., pesticides.
The First Lady’s response is not known; however, the President subsequently rewarded CropLife by appointing one of its executives to a high-level trade post. This and other industry-friendly appointments suggest that while the administration may be sympathetic to elements of the food movement’s agenda, it isn’t about to take on agribusiness, at least not directly, at least until it senses at its back a much larger constituency for reform.
One way to interpret Michelle Obama’s deepening involvement in food issues is as an effort to build such a constituency, and in this she may well succeed. It’s a mistake to underestimate what a determined First Lady can accomplish. Lady Bird Johnson’s “highway beautification” campaign also seemed benign, but in the end it helped raise public consciousness about “the environment” (as it would soon come to be known) and put an end to the public’s tolerance for littering. And while Michelle Obama has explicitly limited her efforts to exhortation (“we can’t solve this problem by passing a bunch of laws in Washington,” she told the Grocery Manufacturers, no doubt much to their relief), her work is already creating a climate in which just such a “bunch of laws” might flourish: a handful of state legislatures, including California’s, are seriously considering levying new taxes on sugar in soft drinks, proposals considered hopelessly extreme less than a year ago.
The political ground is shifting, and the passage of health care reform may accelerate that movement. The bill itself contains a few provisions long promoted by the food movement (like calorie labeling on fast food menus), but more important could be the new political tendencies it sets in motion. If health insurers can no longer keep people with chronic diseases out of their patient pools, it stands to reason that the companies will develop a keener interest in preventing those diseases. They will then discover that they have a large stake in things like soda taxes and in precisely which kinds of calories the farm bill is subsidizing. As the insurance industry and the government take on more responsibility for the cost of treating expensive and largely preventable problems like obesity and type 2 diabetes, pressure for reform of the food system, and the American diet, can be expected to increase.
It makes sense that food and farming should become a locus of attention for Americans disenchanted with consumer capitalism. Food is the place in daily life where corporatization can be most vividly felt: think about the homogenization of taste and experience represented by fast food. By the same token, food offers us one of the shortest, most appealing paths out of the corporate labyrinth, and into the sheer diversity of local flavors, varieties, and characters on offer at the farmers’ market.
Put another way, the food movement has set out to foster new forms of civil society. But instead of proposing that space as a counterweight to an overbearing state, as is usually the case, the food movement poses it against the dominance of corporations and their tendency to insinuate themselves into any aspect of our lives from which they can profit. As Wendell Berry writes, the corporations
will grow, deliver, and cook your food for you and (just like your mother) beg you to eat it. That they do not yet offer to insert it, prechewed, into your mouth is only because they have found no profitable way to do so.
The corporatization of something as basic and intimate as eating is, for many of us today, a good place to draw the line. 
(Michael Pollan, "The Food Movement, Rising", The New York Review Of Books, June 10, 2010, http://www.nybooks.com/articles/archives/2010/jun/10/food-movement-rising/ Sublinierile îmi aparţin. Vezi şi https://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/remarks-first-lady-a-grocery-manufacturers-association-conference).

Contribuţia meritorie a Primei Doamne a fost salutată de Michael Pollan într-un alt text care a devenit ulterior Introducerea la cartea lui Wendell Berry, Bringing it to the Table: On Farming and Food (Counterpoint, 2009):

Wendell Berry’s Wisdom

By Michael Pollan (The Nation, September 2, 2009

A few days after Michelle Obama broke ground on an organic vegetable garden on the South Lawn of the White House in March, the business section of the Sunday New York Times published a cover story bearing the headline Is a Food Revolution Now in Season? The article, written by the paper’s agriculture reporter, said that “after being largely ignored for years by Washington, advocates of organic and locally grown food have found a receptive ear in the White House.”
Certainly these are heady days for people who have been working to reform the way Americans grow food and feed themselves–the “food movement,” as it is now often called. Markets for alternative kinds of food–local and organic and pastured–are thriving, farmers’ markets are popping up like mushrooms and for the first time in many years the number of farms tallied in the Department of Agriculture’s census has gone up rather than down. The new secretary of agriculture has dedicated his department to “sustainability” and holds meetings with the sorts of farmers and activists who not many years ago stood outside the limestone walls of the USDA holding signs of protest and snarling traffic with their tractors. Cheap words, you might say; and it is true that, so far at least, there have been more words than deeds–but some of those words are astonishing. Like these: shortly before his election, Barack Obama told a reporter for Time that “our entire agricultural system is built on cheap oil”; he went on to connect the dots between the sprawling monocultures of industrial agriculture and, on the one side, the energy crisis and, on the other, the healthcare crisis.
Americans today are having a national conversation about food and agriculture that would have been impossible to imagine even a few short years ago. To many Americans it must sound like a brand-new conversation, with its bracing talk about the high price of cheap food, or the links between soil and health, or the impossibility of a society eating well and being in good health unless it also farms well.
But the national conversation unfolding around the subject of food and farming really began in the 1970s, with the work of writers like Wendell Berry, Frances Moore Lappé, Barry Commoner and Joan Gussow. All four of these writers are supreme dot-connectors, deeply skeptical of reductive science and far ahead not only in their grasp of the science of ecology but in their ability to think ecologically: to draw lines of connection between a hamburger and the price of oil, or between the vibrancy of life in the soil and the health of the plants, animals and people eating from that soil.
I would argue that the conversation got under way in earnest in 1971, when Berry published an article in The Last Whole Earth Catalogue introducing Americans to the work of Sir Albert Howard, the British agronomist whose thinking had deeply influenced Berry’s own since he first came upon it in 1964. Indeed, much of Berry’s thinking about agriculture can be read as an extended elaboration of Howard’s master idea that farming should model itself on natural systems like forests and prairies, and that scientists, farmers and medical researchers need to reconceive “the whole problem of health in soil, plant, animal and man as one great subject.” No single quotation appears more often in Berry’s writing than that one, and with good reason: it is manifestly true (as even the most reductive scientists are coming to recognize) and, as a guide to thinking through so many of our problems, it is inexhaustible. That same year, 1971, Lappé published Diet for a Small Planet, which linked modern meat production (and in particular the feeding of grain to cattle) to the problems of world hunger and the environment. Later in the decade, Commoner implicated industrial agriculture in the energy crisis, showing us just how much oil we were eating when we ate from the industrial food chain; and Gussow explained to her nutritionist colleagues that the problem of dietary health could not be understood without reference to the problem of agriculture.
Looking back on this remarkably fertile body of work, which told us all we needed to know about the true cost of cheap food and the value of good farming, is to register two pangs of regret, one personal, the other more political: first, that as a young writer coming to these subjects a couple of decades later, I was rather less original than I had thought; and second, that as a society we failed to heed a warning that might have averted or at least mitigated the terrible predicament in which we now find ourselves.
For what would we give today to have back the “environmental crisis” that Berry wrote about so prophetically in the 1970s, a time still innocent of the problem of climate change? Or to have back the comparatively manageable public health problems of that period, before obesity and type 2 diabetes became “epidemic” (Most experts date the obesity epidemic to the early 1980s.)
But history will show that we failed to take up the invitation to begin thinking ecologically. As soon as oil prices subsided and Jimmy Carter was rusticated to Plains, Georgia (along with his cardigan, thermostat and solar panels), we went back to business–and agribusiness–as usual. In the mid-1980s Ronald Reagan removed Carter’s solar panels from the roof of the White House, and the issues that the early wave of ecologically conscious food writers had raised were pushed to the margins of national politics and culture.

[Notă: Articolul continuă cu modul în care W.B. l-a influenţat pe Pollan, dar despre această relaţie Pollan vorbeşte mai detaliat şi mai ales instructiv în ce priveşte impasul în care poate ajunge o pasiune autentică pentru natură de genul naturalismului practicat de Emerson sau Thoreau în acest interviu: http://www.theatlantic.com/entertainment/archive/2013/04/the-wendell-berry-sentence-that-inspired-michael-pollans-food-obsession/275209/ ].


Ce vreau să semnalez aici este constanţa preocupării lui Barack Obama pentru natură şi mediu, deci despre interesul şi măsurile concrete luate pentru protejarea naturii şi omului dependent de această natură de un lider al cărui stângism este reclamat de conservatorii noştri plutocraţi care ne slăbesc discernământul cu praf(uri) în ochi:

Visiting an isolated fishing village on a grey, overcast day, the president was full of admiration for the whole operation: He pronounced salmon jerky "really good," tried unsuccessfully to scare up a knife so he could attempt to filet a fish and carefully inspected smokehouse drying racks.
The president's visit to the fishing operation came with a serious goal of promoting the importance of environmental protection.
"If you've eaten wild salmon, it's likely to have come from here," Obama told reporters. "It's part of the reason why it's so critical that we make sure that we protect this incredible natural resource, not just for the people whose livelihood depends on it, but for the entire country."
Obama also stopped at a grocery store, saying he wanted to call attention to how the difficulty of getting goods to Alaska causes high prices.
"You're looking at prices that are double, in some cases, or even higher for basic necessities like milk," he said. A half-gallon of milk at the N&N Market cost $8.99 and a large bag of Doritos went for $7.99. Obama said his administration is exploring ways to address the situation.
Dillingham, which sits on an inlet off the Bering Sea, is the fishing hub for Bristol Bay, a world-renowned salmon fishery. Obama's visit to the town of fewer than 3,000 people briefly placed him at the center of a roiling conflict between fishermen and developers who want to build a gold-and-copper mine called Pebble Mine.
Although the company seeking to build the mine hasn't yet submitted any formal proposal, Obama's Environmental Protection Agency has taken the unusual step of pre-emptively blocking it out of concern it could harm the salmon population. That action triggered a lawsuit against the EPA.
Fishermen have banded together with locals and environmental groups in warning the mine would produce more than 10 billion tons of mining waste.