What if food activists get loud?

October 17, 2011

Consumers have many concerns about the food industry. What if they follow the lead of Occupy Wall Street protesters?

The Occupy Wall Street movement is a spreading grassroots movement against corporate greed and unbalanced taxation. It does seem unfocused at times, and it lacks a list of specific demands.

Even so, The Lempert Report thinks it could serve as a model for consumers fed up by our nation’s problems with food – we’re talking food safety, food pricing and food packaging, as well as the unavailability of healthy food in many areas and misleading messages about food by product marketers.

We feel it is entirely possible that people concerned about our nation’s food future could be emboldened by the multi-city presence of today’s anti-greed protesters. If they turn activist, they’d be raising a unified voice about many valid issues, in our opinion. Where would this lead? We don’t know the answer today.

But in an election year coming up where food has already been politicized (think ethanol and price supports), it seems likely to us that some legislators or even a major party would align with food activists calling for industry improvements. If this happens, the industry will have a tough PR battle against potential new regulations, all in the harsh light of public view.

Rather than wait for this perfect storm to gather, some self-policing is in order, as is a more cooperative attitude toward Federal agencies charged with guarding the integrity of the nation’s food pipeline. There’s much to be done, if the industry looks at itself from consumers’ point of view.  It’s never too soon to improve – and the good news is it’s not too late yet either.