In a recent opinion piece posted on Huffington Post, “Why Our Food = Our Politics,” the chef and food activist, Tom Colicchio, states that, even if the “no politics at the dinner table” is a good rule, “dinner is already political.” I mostly agree. (His opinion piece can be found here.

There is much in politics that starkly affects food in the United States, such as the Farm Bill, which provides huge financial subsidies for commodity crops, like soybeans and corn, while also making sugar cheaper than it would otherwise be if market forces of supply-and-demand were allowed to alone determine price. Focusing public attention on these food issue, and those like food security and food safety, is important. But I worry that if food is politicized to the extent of being just another political issue, we risk losing sight of all that makes food unique, such as its ability to form and foster community.

That the USDA provides increasing support for farmers’ markets and local food systems is, without exception, a good thing. What is also needed, though, is a continued sense of ownership and involvement that goes beyond viewing food through nothing but a political lens. Sure, we should pay attention to food as an issue when deciding how to vote. But we also need to pay attention to food on a daily basis in the dozens of food-related decisions that we make. Voting for a politician who supports sugar-subsidies definitely makes it more likely that high calorie sodas will continue to be cheap enough to be attractive to children and others who should not be consuming such unhealthful drinks. But making the decision to not purchase and consume soda matters too.

Today, I will be attending my first meeting as a member of the Jefferson County Food System Council, a grass-roots group of community members based here in Port Townsend that will soon be defining a mission and plan to support the local food system here. I am excited about meeting my fellow Council members and working with them to protect, preserve, and help prosper a thriving local food system. Ultimately, if food in the United States is going to be safer and more healthful, safer and more healthful choices need to abundantly exist and effective compete in the marketplace. These are exciting times, and much is political. But for me, it is personal too. And I think food should be a deeply personal issue for you as well.