AuthorJason J. Czarnezki
For once, I was able to pay the full karmic price of a meal.
Michael Pollan, Omnivore’s Dilemma 9 (2006)
For most, the price of food is the amount paid at the supermarket register. How-
costs of the modern food system—notably, the health and ecological consequences
of pesticide use and the greenhouse gas emissions from the livestock industry,
processing plants, and food distribution systems. Nor are most consumers aware
of these costs. Further, even those consumers who are aware and wish to make
information about the environmental impacts of different foods. As with other
aspects of everyday environmentalism, the key will be to develop effective policy
and regulatory tools that will promote informed decision-making on the part of
individuals and shift social and cultural norms to promote more environmentally
friendly food production and consumption patterns, thereby reducing the aggregate
environmental impact of individual food choices.
Part A of this chapte r consi ders ho w exist ing fed eral la w affect s curre nt
American food production and choices through agricultural subsidies, pesticide
regulation, and food labeling. As discussed in Part B, public policy and economic
           
markets that provide consumers with different choices and induce varying levels of
ness of the ecological costs of food choice and for greater understanding of the
  
the ecological footprint of food production, distribution, and consumption through
(1) creation and use of more comprehensive eco-labeling for food that will make
the environmental costs of food more visible and understood, (2) promoting and
creating broader access to a local organic food market through both local initiatives
and state regulation and programs, and (3) providing consumers with additional
information about the aggregate impacts of food choices in order to shift social and
cultural norms and change food purchases in ways that will decrease the carbon
and ecological footprint of individual food choices.
A. Food and the Law
how foods are produced, and which foods people eat. While new initiatives are
necessary to modify consumer food choices in the United States, as discussed in
 
impacts consumer choice through informational labeling.
The U.S. Farm Bill and accompanying agricultural subsidies create incentives
for farmers to produce large amounts of commodity grain, especially soybeans
and corn. These incentives lead to monocult ure, habitat loss, large indus trial
farms, and increased pesticide usage. Federal legislation does, however, regulate
pesticide usage and provide labeling laws attempting to inform consumers about
how food is produced. Most recently, government-regulated organic food labeling,
Thus, existing policy already has made decisions regarding the level of government
action and information dissemination in creating the American food market. Future
  
further regulation aimed at individual food choices.
Agricultural Subsidies—The Farm Bill
of legislation that determines what happens on a couple hundred million acres of
private property in America, what sort of food Americans eat (and how much it
costs), and as a result, the health of our population.”1 The legislation is the “Farm
Bill.” The Farm Bill’s power was installed by President Franklin D. Roosevelt and
Wickard v. Filburn-
 
2  
the nation’s economic, environmental, and health status.
The Farm Bill centralized farm policy in an effort to support farmers through
the Dust Bowl and the Great Depression. Technological advances in farm equip-
ment and fertilization resulted in crop overproduction and accompanying low
crop prices. The Farm Bill, which has held various names over the years, provides
agricultural subsidies for commodity crops to farmers and promotes production-
control measures.3
FARM BILL (2007).
2. 317 U.S. 111 (1942).
3. The U.S. government adopts employment of soil conservation measures as the rationale for

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