The American Food Revolution: A Call to Action from John Robbins

John Robbins calls into question the current state of U.S. food policies and reminds us that a food revolution is possible and more important than ever.


| August 2012



No-Happy-Cows-Cover

In “No Happy Cows,” John Robbins’ observations about food politics remind us of the importance of working for a more compassionate and environmentally responsible world.

Cover Courtesy Red Wheel/Weiser, LLC

Pioneering food activist John Robbins’ provocative observations about food politics and eating more consciously have inspired a generation to reexamine what’s on their plates and embrace a healthier organic diet. No Happy Cows: Dispatches from the from the Frontlines of the Food Revolution (Red Wheel/Weiser, LLC, 2012) is a collection of his most widely discussed and circulated Huffington Post columns, along with some important new writing. Topics include whether soy is healthy or harmful, the marketing of junk food to children, health implications of chocolate and coffee, the rise of obesity in America, and the relationship between animals and the humans who raise them. The following excerpt is from the book’s introduction. 

It can feel like a war out there. Who would have guessed that First Lady Michelle Obama was doing anything offensive when, shortly after her husband became president, she planted an organic garden on the White House lawn? It seemed innocuous, much like Lady Bird Johnson’s campaign to beautify the nation’s cities and highways by planting wildflowers, or Laura Bush’s support for childhood literacy.

But CropLife America, a trade association representing Monsanto and other makers of pesticides and genetically modified (GMO) food, was outraged. They angrily wrote the First Lady and widely broadcast their view that her organic garden was unfairly maligning chemical agriculture. They demanded that she use “crop-protection technologies,” otherwise known as pesticides.

From the degree of umbrage they took, you’d have thought the Obama administration was nursing major plans to do something to challenge agribusiness as usual. But that was far from the case. In fact, the president had already appointed an ardent ally of industrial agriculture, Tom Vilsack, to head the Department of Agriculture. Vilsack’s support for agrichemicals, large industrial farms, and GMO foods was so steadfast that, as the governor of Iowa, he had been the recipient of Monsanto’s Governor of the Year award.

As if to make it copiously clear that he was not intending to confront the agrichemical and factory-farm conglomerates, Obama had even appointed the man most responsible for the advancement of GMO food in the history of the U.S., Michael R. Taylor, as senior advisor to the FDA commissioner. And in case that wasn’t enough, Obama then promoted Taylor to an even more powerful position as Deputy Commissioner of Foods.

This was the same Michael R. Taylor who had made it possible for Monsanto to get GMO foods approved in the U.S. without even remotely adequate testing for possible health dangers. In a classic example of the “revolving door” between agribusiness and government, Taylor was first an attorney at Monsanto, then became policy chief at the FDA, then became Monsanto’s vice president and chief lobbyist, and then was appointed by Obama as America’s food-safety czar.

david duff
10/11/2012 7:00:51 PM

First we have to make CAFO treat thier waste and quit turning a blind eye to the pollution they produce.The technology to treat this waste is the same as in your local municipal sewer plant and has been around over a hundred years but companies will stack waste up in lagoons unless they are forced to treat them in Extended Aeration Waste Water Treatment Plants. Next ban all antibiotics and growth hormones in animal feed .These substances have been shown to be deleterious to human health.Also this will force CAFO to treat animals more humanely or they will suffer great losses in the dying of thier stock. The price of meat will go up but do we really want to renforce the idea of hell on earth on animals because of greed.Anyone who loves and raises animals know that these operations as they currently are are cruel.