food labels, food choices, food information, local action, sustainable food future, Big Food, Food Democracy movement, elitism, Big Agriculture, sustainable agriculture, organic food, local food, mad cow disease, new farmers, small farmers, immigrants

Document Type



Author's Note: This essay is a companion to the essay 'Food Democracy, "which appears in 9 DRAKE JOuRNAL OF AGRICULTURAL LAw 9 (2004). In that essay, the author discussed many of the progressive trends that are helping reshape America's food system. These trends have a common denominator in their reflection of the democratic tendencies of the American populace. The desire of an increasing number of consumers to eat better food and to have access to the information, choices, and alternatives that make better food available are helping drive shifts in food production and marketing. Accompanying these shifts are political and legal debates over fundamental policy issues that relate to food labeling, support for local food production, the emergence of ecolabels, and examination of the relation between nutrition and public health. Arrayed against the emergence of these new economic and policy developments are the institutions and values of the conventional food and agricultural sector, which the author collectively describes as Big Food. He argues the emergence and recognition of 'Food Democracy" is a valuable development for helping America examine the future of the food and agricultural system. In this essay, the author provides further amplification of his thesis, in part using the recent "mad cow" incident to illuminate some of the differences in values and attitudes between Big Food and Food Democracy.