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Food Fight: The Citizen's Guide to the Next Food and Farm Bill [Paperback]

by Daniel Imhoff, Fred Kirschenmann, Michael Pollan
4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)

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Book Description

February 21, 2012 0970950071 978-0970950079
Every five years, the U.S. Congress passes a little understood piece of legislation called the Farm Bill. Primarily accountable for setting the budgets and work plans for the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the Farm Bill is anything but bureaucratic trivia. It is an essential economic and policy engine that drives the food and farming system and provides nutritional assistance to tens of millions of Americans--many of them children. In recent years, more and more citizens are realizing just how much is at stake in this political chess game.

Originally published in 2007, Food Fight was Daniel Imhoff's highly acclaimed primer on the 2008 Farm Bill. Now in a newly updated and expanded edition, packed with helpful charts and illustrations, Imhoff looks ahead at this important issue, as the debate for 2012 is already underway. With the legislation due to be reauthorized in late 2012, Food Fight offers a critical resource that can help all who live in the U.S. to deconstruct this challenging bill, organize in their communities to gain a seat at the bargaining table, and ultimately vote with their forks.

Includes a foreword by Michael Pollan and introduction by Fred Kirschenmann.

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Food Fight: The Citizen's Guide to the Next Food and Farm Bill + In Defense of Food: An Eater's Manifesto
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Editorial Reviews


This [is a] new edition of Imhoff's lucid explanation of the farm bill and the [many] issues it covers. I'm not aware of anything else that comes close to explaining this most obscure and obfuscated piece of legislation. I will use this book in my NYU classes and borrow the stunning illustrations for talks. - Marion Nestle, Food Politics blog.

"Daniel Imhoff's 'Food Fight' provides a better explanation of the Farm Bill, which Congress is currently fussing with, than anyone else." -- Marion Nestle, professor of Nutrition, Food Studies, and Public Health at New York University

"The single best guide to the upcoming Farm Bill fight." -- Michael Pollan

"For the price of a few hours of reading and making marginal notes ... this book can be turned into a potent weapon of enlightenment. This is citizen's education at its finest." -- Chris Walters, ACRES USA

About the Author

Daniel Imhoff is a researcher, author, and independent publisher who has concentrated for nearly 20 years on issues related to farming, the environment, and design. He is the author of numerous articles, essays, and books, and is the co-founder, director, and publisher of Watershed Media.

For the past twenty-five years, Michael Pollan has been writing books and articles about the places where nature and culture intersect: on our plates, in our farms and gardens, and in the built environment.

Product Details

  • Paperback: 212 pages
  • Publisher: Watershed Media (February 21, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0970950071
  • ISBN-13: 978-0970950079
  • Product Dimensions: 8.9 x 8 x 0.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #275,939 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Dan Imhoff is a researcher, author, and independent publisher who has concentrated for nearly 20 years on issues related to farming, the environment, and design. He is the author of numerous articles, essays, and books including CAFO: The Tragedy of Industrial Animal Factories; Food Fight: The Citizen's Guide to a Food and Farm Bill; Paper or Plastic: Searching for Solutions to an Overpackaged World; Farming with the Wild: Enhancing Biodiversity on Farms and Ranches; and Building with Vision: Optimizing and Finding Alternatives to Wood.

Dan is a highly sought-after public speaker who lectures and conducts workshops on a variety of topics, from food and farming to environmental design and conservation. He has appeared on hundreds of national and regional radio and television programs, including CBS Sunday Morning, Science Friday, and West Coast Live. His books have gained national attention with coverage in the San Francisco Chronicle, Newsweek, the San Jose Mercury News, the Los Angeles Times, and the Chicago Tribune. He has testified before Congress and spoken at numerous conferences, corporate and government offices, and college campuses, including Stanford University, the University of Pennsylvania, Johns Hopkins School of Public Health, the University of California at Berkeley, and the Vermont Law School.

Dan is the president and co-founder of Watershed Media, a non-profit publishing house based in Healdsburg, California. He is the president and a co-founder of the Wild Farm Alliance, a ten-year-old national organization that works to promote agriculture systems that support and accommodate wild nature.

Between 1990 and 1995, Dan worked at Esprit International, where he was communications director for a team at the forefront of environmental product design. He received a B.A. in International Relations from Allegheny College and an M.A. in International Affairs from the Maxwell School of Public Affairs at Syracuse University.

He lives on a small homestead farm in Northern California.

Customer Reviews

4.8 out of 5 stars
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Emergency at hand June 21, 2012
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
All citizens of the United States should read this book, and many outside the US could well use it. It exposes the grim truth about American agriculture: it is massively distorted by the subsidy system. Subsidies go almost exclusively to large-scale producers of a handful of basic commodities, largely maize (41% of all), cotton, wheat, sugar and soybeans. This greatly lowers the price of these items, distorting the market. One result, explored in detail in the book, is unhealthy diet; sweeteners--high-fructose corn syrup and sugar--are artificially cheap, and thus find their way into almost everything. Processed starches and soybean oil are also artificially cheap. So are meat and dairy products, which get some subsidies and benefit from artificially cheap feeds. Americans wind up with poor health, because the "bad" foods are cheaper and also because the subsidy-enriched giant agribusiness and food processing firms advertise heavily. (The book does not mention it, but one particularly annoying form this advertising takes is paying Fox News personalities to make constant, scathing, derogatory remarks about anyone who cares about good diet--calling such persons "food nazis" and making racist remarks about Michelle Obama when she shows an interest in better foods.)
Another point about subsidies is that they block change. The giant subsidized interests can get research steered to their wants. They also block new initiatives, and of course they can outcompete any new or different farming, because the playing field is so far from level. We are thus locked into an increasingly dinosauric rural economy, with a few giant producers committed to an agricultural style that is less and less sustainable.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Shedding light on a key but obscure federal law March 6, 2012
The second edition of Food Fight (February 2012) is a systematic overview for citizens of the labyrinths of a powerful piece of federal legislation commonly referred to as the Farm Bill, which is up for renewal as the 2008 Farm Bill is set to expire this year. With the assistance of many graphs and charts, it breaks down this colossus into as simple and understandable components: commodity crops, crop insurance, conservation, exports, etc. --- including the mammoth allocation that now goes to "nutrition", which involves SNAP (a.k.a., food stamps) and a gamut of smaller programs.

The author gives a history and critique of each component of the Farm Bill. He is especially critical of how the allocations (and budget cuts) directed at farmers have shaped the agricultural landscape, creating perverse incentives to consolidate (subsiding agribusiness oligopolies) and to abuse the land. (The author doesn't quite say it, but nothing seems to cut the funding for conservation programs faster than their demonstrated effectiveness.)

This book does an excellent job of making comprehensible an opaque subject matter, and as such will be a useful reference (probably even after the passage of the next Farm Bill passes). If someone wanted to be critical, there are several areas that could be pointed out. First, as a revision of a book written for the 2008, it suffers from the same problem that often afflicts second editions, namely you're never sure how much they're actually updated. Judging from the data, it looks like this book has been substantially overhauled, far more than is usual for books. There is, however, one sentence that implies 2009 is in the future, and that's jarring.

The second issue is one that is inherent in the subject matter.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars So much to think about February 5, 2013
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This is a fantastic summary of how our inactivity regarding politics and voting for the incumbent politicians is destroying our land and poisoning ourselves.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Food Fight December 30, 2013
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I enjoyed this book because of the historical insights behind food and commodities. How the government feeds our children in school and how the government allows people to become obese and gives them more and more food stamps.
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