Are You What You Eat?

Soup.

A photo posted by Jeff Carter (@pointsnfigures) on

Last evening, my wife and I went to a dinner for Angelic Organics. It was in Caledonia, Illinois out on the farm.  If you follow me on Instagram you know I cook a lot, and I eat my way through life.  They have a cob oven on the premises that I will put on a farm if I ever buy one.  The pizzas it turned out were really good.  I put some photos up of the dinner. Everything was pretty darn good!

The cool thing about food is everyone eats.  Public Good has a site for Angelic Organics. Angelic has a lot of missions. Of course, they teach young kids about farming, cooking, and nutrition. A big part of their program is teaching people how to farm in both rural, and urban areas. They have seeded a lot of farmers. That’s cool, because people that have never thought about farming are making a living by doing it. By donating even $5, you can help them educate farmers so we can increase the supply of food.

There is plenty local, state, and the federal governments can do around food.  Food transcends everyone and I think food freedom is a big issue for us in the future.  Food freedom doesn’t just encompass the fights cities have with food trucks.  There are issues in farming, in the way we process and distribute food.  Rules and regulations stop people from utilizing skills they have to make a living.

The USDA and FDA often stand in the way of innovation with the arcane rules they have.  Sometimes the rules are there to protect cronies.  Did you know that if you grow organic chicken in Indiana, it’s illegal to sell it direct to consumers in Illinois unless the farmer sells through a distributor.  It’s gotten so bad, farmers have set up a legal defense fund to help them fight the government.  In this day and age where the internet puts us closer to customers, why do we have all kinds of rules that force extra costs on food?

Personally, I am not against the factory farms.  I am also not against GMO crops.  But, I would like things to be labeled clearly so that people can make their own individual informed choice.  I’d like to see all the subsidies and artificial tax incentives taken away so markets can assist in helping people decide.

My friend Arnold Waldstein has a new food product that is produced in New York, Lulitonix.  He can quote chapter and verse on all the artificial hurdles that government put in front of him to get going.  I was speaking with a farmer last night at the dinner and he said you cannot believe the mountain of paperwork and ticky tacky fees he is having to pay in order to expand his operation and pivot it a little.

Joel Salatin has written and produced a lot on this issue.   He likes to say, am I a Liberal?  A Libertarian?  A Conservative?  A Hippie?  A Traditionalist?  Who knows?  This issue hits all of us the same.

I can’t imagine a more basic human right, a more bi-partisan issue, than protecting my right to choose my body’s food. Who could possibly think that such freedom of choice should be denied? We allow people to smoke, shoot, preach, home educate, spray their yards with chemicals, buy lottery tickets, and read about the Kardashians: wouldn’t you think we could let people choose their food?

It is time to give us back the food freedom our ancestors enjoyed. Freedom is not a focus group exercise. If we can’t taste freedom, we can only talk about it, and that leaves liberty hollow. It’s time for us to embrace the innovation and food security solutions that granting a fundamental right to food engenders.

Government policy creates all kinds of imbalances in our food system. For example, CRP programs pay farmers not to farm.  This alters the price of crops, and takes land out of production that could be used for grazing-which alters prices of meat too!  Subsidies for corn and beans create oversupply of corn and beans.  Price floors create even more imbalances.  Even crops that seem small, like peanuts have economic imbalances caused by federal programs.  There is a subsidy to plant peanuts, and a government program to buy excess peanuts and keep them off the market to hold the price up.

Most of these policies were instituted under New Deal programs by FDR.  They centralized price policy and Washington set the price rather than the market.  In this day and age, we ought to start embracing decentralized systems.   The cost of food would probably drop, and the variety of food that is grown would probably increase.

Lots of startups are revolutionizing the food industry.  Thrive Market is like Amazon for healthy food.  Simple Mills creates all kinds of gluten free baking products.  The winner of the New Venture Challenge at Chicago Booth, Maestro, is creating a new way for people to cook food.  Farmlogs is changing the way people grow it. Of course, there are many startups changing the way it’s distributed from grocer to consumer.

Food is really important to people.  Anecdotally, my Facebook and Instagram stream is filled with photos of food.  Dabble, a company I am invested in consistently sells out any class related to food or drink.  Teachers that teach on their platform are making a decent buck teaching.

If we are looking for an issue to get both sides of the aisle united on, it might be food.  I hope you can support Angelic Organics and I hope you check out what the startups are doing with food.  It might just change your life.