Most reasonable people agree that when the government uses taxpayer money and its influence on the American diet, it should closely reflect its own advice on healthy eating, as put forth in its Food Guide Pyramid.
Certainly, most in the produce industry support such a mission, on health and business levels.
The industry should be satisfied the proposed bill allowing the U.S. Department of Agriculture oversight of school lunch programs to expand to include all food sold in schools should mean more fresh fruit and vegetables will be served to more school kids.
Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, chairman of the senate agriculture committee introduced the bill this spring, but it didn’t make much news until he addressed it during the July 7 confirmation hearing for Kevin Concannon, the proposed undersecretary of agriculture for food, nutrition and consumer services.
This plan has to go through the bureaucratic process of being a rule and having a comment period, even after it makes it to a vote in Congress.
There, it has to get in line behind bigger government issues such as health care. But it should be a higher priority.
Congress and the Obama administration have talked about health care prevention as being as, if not more important than treatment, but their spending of time and money indicate the opposite.
Fresh produce consumption is an important part of prevention of diseases, including cancer, diabetes and obesity-related illnesses. And prevention starts when consumers’ bodies and tastes are growing and setting lifelong habits.
At least Sen. Harkin is moving the debate in the right direction.