Monday, December 7, 2015

Culture and Food Policy

From guest blogger, Nina.

Many concerns regarding culture and food revolve around what people are eating and why, but I would like to conclude this series of posts with an examination of policy.  One thing is for sure: the government of a particular state should set food related policies that do not favor one culture or religion.  Though in many cases, we see that this seemingly obvious concept is violated.

In my own experience, the American government gives immense food policy preference to the average American and forgets about the impoverished. The Oglala Lakota Sioux that I serve on Pine Ridge Indian Reservation are given hardly a second glance when it comes to food distribution.  Throughout the entire 3500 squared miles that the reservation lies on, there is but one grocery store.  Any other food that can be found is at a sprinkling of convenience stores on the reservation.  Ultimately, the Lakota people eat cheap, processed foods (if and when they can get them) leading to the reservation having 8 times the diabetes rate than the rest of the US.  I don’t pretend to know much about politics or how policy is set, but I do know that such injustice and inequality is disgusting and what is worse is that the government turns a blind eye to Pine Ridge. 

There are many other cases other than Pine Ridge when a culture is disrespected or not given attention when it comes to food related policy, though what my argument boils down to is that food policy can cause great amounts of suffering too.  Whether that suffering is from lack of adequate nutrition, economic loss as a farmer, or the feeling of deep disrespect for one’s culture, the pain food policy causes is present and obvious.  In cases such as this, cultural differences should be given the utmost respect.

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