Child of the New Deal

Frances Moore Lappé has a fine piece in The Nation this week, reminding us of The New Deal. She points out that

The first two economic rights [in the New Deal] assured a “useful” job that paid enough to provide “adequate food and clothing.” The third guaranteed farmers a high enough return for their crops to provide their families with a “decent living.” To begin, [Roosevelt] asked Congress to pass a “cost of food law,” putting a price floor under farmers and a price ceiling on the cost of food necessities for all.

And she’s right – this sort of public action absolutely helped US farmers and consumers (though not necessarily farmers or consumers elsewhere). The inconvenient truth, though, is that Roosevelt didn’t implement this out of the goodness of his heart. He did it because in the US at the time, there was a vibrant set of political groups that were organising and pushing for a much more radical solution. It’s no accident that the New Deal begins at the same time as the War on Communism.

Not a fact that gets much play in the American media. But something rather important for those of us pushing for a better food system to hear.