Ryan Wilson Paulsen, The Politics of Food Are Difficult To Grasp, 2008. Chalk on chalkboard.
I don’t know much about this artwork, but I can endorse the sentiment. Just this week, in a story about the appointment of the new U.S. Food and Drug Administration commissioner, the Washington Post mentioned a policy I’d forgotten all about:
Obama also said he will ask Congress for $1 billion in new funds to add inspectors and modernize laboratories, and announced that the Agriculture Department is moving ahead with a rule change banning all sick or disabled cattle from entering the food supply. The change had stalled during the last months of the Bush administration, which allowed some “downer cows” to be slaughtered for sale.
You may recall the story about a Humane Society private-eye who got footage of workers at a California meat company using electric rods and high-powered hoses to “corral” cows that were too sick, disabled, or both to stand or walk. Scandal followed from the subsequent revelations that industrial ranchers were ignoring standing regulations — which exist, for example, to prevent people from serving mad-cow disease–affected beef during school lunch, which is where a full one-quarter of the total 143 million pounds of recalled beef were headed.
Nevertheless, Bush-administration Agriculture Secretary Ed Schafer resisted an outright ban on diseased, downer, barftastic beef entering the nation’s food supply. This, in the immediate wake of a national food scandal and despite greater understanding of the troubling cases linking downer cows and mad-cow disease. And yet when the United States first decided meat safety regulations were a good idea, what the nation went on was the say-so of an activist artist.