What if… a US food policy official spoke and answered questions at NOFA?

From David E. Gumpert’s “The Complete Patient” blog:

Food rights blogger David E. Gumpert as “David Edwards” presents at the NOFA-NJ Winter Conference on Sunday, Jan. 26. (Photo by Rita Ladany) Photo via The Complete Patient blog.

“I got a taste Sunday of what it is like to be a government food policy official in enemy territory.

I spoke at the NOFA-NJ Winter Conference in Lincroft, NJ, and decided to assume the role of David Edwards, a high-ranking (and fictitious) food policy official at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. (NOFA is the Northeast Organic Farming Association.)

I had actually assumed the same fictitious role on Wednesday evening at a get-together at Groton Wellness, but because most of the people there already knew me, it was all in good fun. Yesterday, most of the people hadn’t met me before. And also, this time I dressed for the role,  in suit and tie and dark glasses; the NOFA-NJ board member who introduced me, Theresa Lam, played along and explained to the 45 or so people present that “David Gumpert has been delayed, but we have a substitute speaker, a high-ranking official from the Department of Health and Human Services by the name of David Edwards.”

I guess I should have realized that not everyone understood this was a skit when one man immediately got up and left when the speaker he had come to see apparently wasn’t there. This was, after all, a busy conference, with several dozen presentations and more than 500 attendees.

My/Edwards’ talk was entitled, “Survival of the Weakest: Keeping America’s Food System in Safe Hands,” and I went through a series of PowerPoint slides making the case that our factory food system has done a wonderful job of keeping people’s stomachs full, even if it has led to serious chronic health problems and police-state regulation of small farms selling food privately. The health problems, I pointed out, have resulted in huge economic benefits for Big Pharma and the medical profession, and the over-regulation has benefited Big Ag corporations.

I also argued, as David Edwards, that we in government had cleverly created a food safety “crisis” to distract from the factory-food-related health issues (such as antibiotic resistance, over-use of pesticides, and the rise of genetically modified organisms, or GMOs).

I thought it was pretty cute, till people in the audience began taking me seriously. One woman interrupted with questions about why I was defining food safety entirely in terms of pathogens. I was taken aback, but decided to stay in character. …”

Read more on David E. Gumpert’s “The Complete Patient” blog.


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