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Jay Walljasper: Foodopoly

Our dysfunctional, corporate dominated food system threatens our health and the planet.
Image from Flickr via World Bank Photo Collection

By Jay Walljasper
By arrangement with On the Commons

Wenonah Hauter, who works on the political frontlines to ensure safety and health of Americans’ food as director of Food & Water Watch, details the threat that huge unaccountable agribusiness corporations pose to the public health and the natural environment in her new book Foodopoly.

A farmer herself, who grows organic vegetables distributed to local families in Northern Virginia through a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture), Hauter is concerned about the continuing influence lobbyists exert on US agriculture policy, favoring corporate profits and overprocessed junk food over family farmers and good nutrition.

“The dysfunctional food system we suffer from today is the result of longstanding farm and food policies,” that were rolled out in the 1950s by politicians who “envisioned a future in which most young rural men would supply cheap labor for manufacturing in the industrial north rather than continuing to farm, and in which a small number of large industrialized farms would supply the necessary food.”

Hauter points to the global commons as one element of the campaign to reclaim our food supply, restore the land and ensure that everyone has enough to eat.

“Food—basic to the human experience, culture and health—provides an opening to redefining how the world is viewed. We need a new paradigm based on perceiving the world as a global commons with collectively shared assets, from air, water, soil and genetics to taxpayer-funded research, libraries, roads and all of the other resources we share. Using the commons as a prism for conceptualizing how we live together in an increasingly crowded world offers an affirmative vision for creating a more equitable and sustainable society.”

Jay Walljasper, Senior Fellow at On the Commons and editor of, created OTC’s book All That We Share: A Field Guide to the Commons. A speaker, communications strategist and writer and editor, he chronicles stories from around the world that point us toward a more equitable, sustainable and enjoyable future. He is author of The Great Neighborhood Book and a senior associate at the urban affairs consortium Citiscope. Walljasper also writes a column about city life for and is a Senior Fellow at Project for Public Spaces and Augsburg College’s Sabo Center for Citizenship and Learning.

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