TIME reporter Bryan Walsh took a cue from his friends behind Food, Inc. and hyped an impending food crisis in this week’s magazine cover story. But if you’re looking for the real story about agriculture, you won’t find it in “Getting Real About the High Price of Cheap Food.” No doubt about it: “Sustainable” food purists are working overtime to earn their reputation as ignorant elitists.
Walsh’s article is full of falsehoods and misinformation calculated to capitalize on fear and guilt. He attacks farmers in the Midwest for having the audacity to grow crops and raise livestock efficiently and cheaply enough to feed the whole country. He intones, without a hint of irony (or proof): “Our food is increasingly bad for us, even dangerous.” He says meat is disproportionately responsible for global warming — a myth that has been thoroughly, repeatedly debunked. And he praises organic farming and other “enlightened” agriculture fads which produce very little that ordinary consumers can regularly afford.
Inevitably, restrictions on what we grow for food and how it’s raised have the effect of shrinking the available food supply. (Even Walsh admits that no one goes to the farmers’ market for bargains.) Stocking a pantry with organic foods is a lifestyle choice — a luxury that only a privileged few can afford. And ultimately, it doesn’t have the intended health effect, as research has shown organic is no safer and no more nutritious than conventionally grown produce.
If Walsh or his heroes Michael Pollan and Eric Schlosser want to be taken seriously, they will have to face a difficult question about their wishful food utopia: Who gets to eat, and who doesn’t? While elitists wring their hands over organic arugula, most Americans just want to put food on the table.