We’re less than two months into the 2020 presidential campaign. And we already have our first food-related controversy. The problem is, some Democratic leaders in Iowa don’t seem to care.
Cory Booker, a senator from New Jersey, launched his bid for the Democratic nomination at the month’s start. Shortly after, people started discussing the fact that Booker is vegan and whether that will hurt his chances to win early in Iowa. Why? Because Iowa is the number one pork-producing state in the nation.
But when Politico asked Democratic leaders in the state, they seemed completely uninterested.
Sean Bagniewski, chairman of the Polk County Democrats, said this: “If you’re voting for somebody based on what’s on their dinner table, then you’ve got bigger problems.”
Bagniewski’s comments concern me. A lot.
We can have a conversation about Booker, his veganism, and his other policies at another time. That’s not what this article is about. This is about the apathy, even in a state so dependent on agriculture, for farm issues.
I do care about what a candidate puts on his plate. And that doesn’t mean I have big problems. No, I don’t care if Donald Trump chows down on well-done steak, even if I find that unappetizing. But if a candidate’s food choices reflect some larger ideogology about food production in our country, then I definitely want to know about it.
Do any of the candidates insist on organic-only cuisine? Do they worry about whether genetically-modified crops are safe? Would any of them want to see animal agriculture ended?
These questions matter. Because they can influence legislation, regulations, and public opinion. So when a candidate adheres to something like veganism, voters should ask questions and want to know more. And modern-agriculture supporting voters definitely should ask these questions.
I don’t know why Cory Booker is vegan. I don’t know whether he thinks we should all be vegan. And I don’t know how he views animal agriculture at large. But I’ll definitely ask those questions and report on the answers.
And I’ll reject anyone who suggests it simply doesn’t matter. Because it does.