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Defining the Field of Food Policy

While a terrain of buzzwords exists related to food policy – food security, food sovereignty, food deserts, fast food, slow food and locavore just to name a few – the field itself is mostly a murky swampland. It is undefined, and currently lacks a solid foundation upon which to safely build.

The National Institutes of Health views food policy as a tool for responding to unstable food prices, yet the World Health Organization merges it with food insecurity without offering an explanation for food policy. Perhaps Tim Lang, David Barling, and Martin Caraher said it best in their book, Food Policy: Integrating health, environment and society, that “food policy is the pursuit of improved knowledge of how policy-making determines and responds to the food system”, but I’ll refer you to their entire chapter two to decipher what exactly that means.[1]If the officials and leading organizations cannot come to a common consensus, how should the general public understand this arena?

The problem is that the field of food policy has not yet been defined. Is the field aimed to address concerns over obesity? Diabetes? Nutrition? Lack of access to healthy food? Environmental issues in food production? Corporate conglomerates? Urbanization? Poverty? Justice? Inequality? Sure, food policy may touch upon all of these matters but in its current state it can only do so in a superficial way because food policy is too immense and vague. The field needs a common foundation, or rather, a mission that officials and global citizens alike can grasp and follow. By establishing this, we will have the proper jumping point needed to tackle the issues within the field.

Join the conversation and let IPS know what you think the mission is of food policy. Feel free to comment on this blog post, or email Agnes Balla at Agnes.Balla@yahoo.com.


Agnes Balla is a first year Master’s in Public Policy student at the Johns Hopkins Institute for Health and Social Policy.  She is a candidate for Masters in Public Policy. 



[1]Lang, T., Barling, D., and Caraher, M. Food Policy: Integrating health, environment and society. New York, NY: Oxford University Press 2009, Pg. 21. 

Come Visit the Library's New GIS Display Wall

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I’m glad to see that my opponent and I can agree on many points of contention.  However, I take issue with a number of his statements. 

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The Bowles-Simpson plan is as balanced as Fox News.  As my friend has suggested, the proposal is heavily skewed toward program cuts.  Over 75 percent of the proposed policy savings through 2015, and 69 percent through 2020, are achieved through budget cuts.  While only accounting for 5 percent of GDP, a full 20 percent of the Bowles-Simpson deficit reductions derive from cuts in non-defense discretionary programs.  How are legislators supposed to reduce real funding for discretionary programs by more than one-fifth without severely affecting programs on which millions of Americans rely?  A ‘balanced solution’ would come much closer to a 50-50 split between raising revenue and spending cuts.    

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