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Food Production Needs Improvement

As a campus group that spends a great deal of time and energy considering the challenges of how we eat (as a global population, as a city, and as a campus), we were struck by the stark juxtaposition in Tuesday, September 15th’s paper between an article about the Clover food truck and a McDonald’s advertisement. Beyond the deep irony of placing an article about a food truck that provides our campus with fresh and healthy lunches next to an advertisement for the very symbol of the food system that we are working to improve, we see a host of challenges.

These challenges include whether and how to use synthetic chemicals in agricultural production, how to manage water and nutrient sources, how to gauge the well-being of farmers and their employees, and how to create stronger market linkages between small producers, both in the developing world and in our region, and consumers that are looking for alternatives to mass-produced food items.

We acknowledge that McDonald’s supply chain employs many agricultural workers worldwide, and recognize that shifting such an entrenched trading relationship will take time and care. That said, we believe a shift in food production is urgent and necessary, and we challenge companies like McDonald’s to lead a charge toward a healthier food system.

We want MIT to be known for driving positive changes in the food system that lead to more nutritious, environmentally and socially healthy, and satisfying choices for everyone. While we have concerns about some of McDonald’s sourcing, processing, and marketing practices, we also recognize that the company and its peers present an immense opportunity for improvement.

Our hope is that we can bring the discussion of food and nutrition to the fore as a critical challenge that this campus and our human population must address. We hope The Tech’s readers, and the MIT campus at large, will join us in doing so.

The MIT Food Initiative

http://foodinitiative.mit.edu

food-exec@mit.edu