Health Social Issues

John and Ocean Robbins: Our Message for This Election

6 min read

At Food Revolution Network, our mission is healthy, ethical and sustainable food for all. As the US presidential election approaches, our President and CEO, John and Ocean Robbins, respectively, have joined together with other health and wellness leaders to take a prominent stand for policies that support our mission, and that contribute to healthy people and a healthy planet. Find out why these health leaders think this election is critical to the future of food and the health of the nation.

Your food choices could be your most powerful vote of all. With every bite you take, you can vote for the health you want — and for the world you want.

The impact of that vote transcends ideology, worldview, and politics. And at the end of the day, the chronic diseases that are killing tens of millions of people every year — cancer, heart disease, stroke, diabetes, and dementia — don’t care what political party you’re affiliated with. But they do care, and care a great deal, about what you eat.

Everybody needs food to live. And everybody needs healthy food to be healthy.

At FRN, most of the time we keep our focus on the unifying reality of food. We have 650,000 members from 180+ countries who hold many different cultural and political perspectives. And that’s something we feel proud of. We try to stay out of political echo-chambers and vitriol. Our choice is to focus less on what divides us and more on how we can create a healthier world together.

At the same time, we are based in the United States, where there’s an election on the horizon. And the truth is that everything we stand for, including how food is grown, how it’s processed, who has access to healthy food and who doesn’t, and how healthy we are as people and as a nation, will be impacted by the results.

We believe that a healthy democracy depends on the active participation of the citizenry. Like a muscle, it gets stronger when we use it. So it is in that spirit that we share the below statement about food policy issues, signed by a diverse range of health and wellness leaders.

— John Robbins and Ocean Robbins

Natural Health and Wellness Leaders’ Collective Statement

Regarding the US Election:

Vote for a healthy life and a healthy world!

We are in the midst of one of the most severe health crises in human history — and not just because of the current global pandemic. Before anyone had heard of COVID-19, rates of obesity, diabetes, dementia, and many other diseases were skyrocketing. We were already facing a devastating health crisis that was killing more than half a million Americans every single year.[1] And now, in the time of COVID-19, those suffering from these conditions are faring the worst.

We didn’t get this sick by chance. Government policies, built by leadership from both parties over the course of decades, have fueled our health crisis.

Industry lobbyists have captured elected officials on both sides of the aisle, blocking public access to safe and nutritious food, preventive health care, and a healthy environment. Far too much power and control have been placed in the hands of the agrochemical industry, drug companies, and corporate food lobbyists — ahead of the health and well-being of people, communities, and our planet.

One of the most important votes of all is the one we cast three times every day — with our knives and forks. Our diet and lifestyle choices profoundly impact the course of our health destiny and the health of our country and planet. But just as important are the choices we make to elect our leaders — and how we hold them accountable to advance policies that benefit our health and the planet once they come into office.

Regardless of who is in office, however, we will continue to fight for food and nutrition policies that focus on preventing hunger, promoting health, and protecting the environment — rather than on protecting the profits of huge industries. These include policies that:

  • Support regenerative and organic agricultural practices that sequester carbon and produce nutrient-rich food from healthy soils.
  • Subsidize small farms, organic farmers, CSAs, farmers markets, and growers of fruits, vegetables, and other health-promoting foods — while ending subsidies for junk food and factory-farmed meat.
  • Improve school nutrition programs, so they provide healthier foods to more children.
  • Fight racism and improve health equity by preventing alcohol and junk food companies from targeting low-income people, minority groups, and children.
  • Expand public safety by enacting regulations on pesticides, industrial toxins, the routine use of antibiotics in industrial meat production, and the pollution generated by factory farms.
  • Provide worker protections for farm laborers, meatpacking workers, restaurant workers, and other high-risk essential food workers.
  • Require accurate labeling of GMOs and animal treatment practices on food products.

But let’s be clear: The current administration has consistently shown itself to be intractably opposed to the kinds of policy changes we are calling for. It has:

  • Undermined scientific integrity in the creation of the dietary guidelines for Americans by prohibiting discussion of red and processed meat, sodium, ultra-processed foods, and the impact on our environment. [2] [3]
  • Backslid on efforts to make school lunches healthier, and cut food assistance programs by tens of billions of dollars. [4] [5]
  • Made it easier than ever for the food industry to hide the presence of GMOs in our food. [6] [7]
  • Approved more than 100 pesticides that are banned in other countries. [8]
  • Repeatedly refused to acknowledge the overwhelming science-backed evidence that climate change poses a serious and urgent threat to our future. [9] [10]
  • Curtailed animal welfare protections and regulations intended to protect consumers and the environment from the hazards of factory farms and meat processing plants. [11] [12] [13] [14]
  • Weakened protections for food and farmworkers, causing harm to Latinx, Black, and Indigenous communities, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic. [15] [16]

The current administration was elected on promises to “drain the swamp” and fight for the people. But in reality, it has further perpetuated and deepened the very policies that sell out public health for the exorbitant profits of junk food, factory farming, pharmaceutical, and pesticide industries.

We are keenly aware that merely electing a different leadership won’t guarantee that we’ll accomplish our goals or solve our problems. It’s going to take concerted and sustained action from millions of people — combined with constructive political leadership.

And this election may be the most important in human history.

No matter what your background, age, income level, or partisan beliefs, please don’t sit out this election. Your voice matters. And so does your vote.

The above is a joint statement written in collaboration with leaders in the wellness community. Please share widely and freely if it speaks to you.

Partial list of signers (in alphabetical order) include:

Mark Bittman, Food Journalist
Zach Bush, MD, Founder, Farmers Footprint
Yami Cazorla-Lancaster, DO, MPH, Founder, Nourish Wellness
Seane Corn, Yoga Teacher and author, Revolution of the Soul
Ryan Eliason, Founder, Social Entrepreneur Empowerment Network
Rip Esselstyn, Founder, Plant-Strong by Engine 2, author of The Engine 2 Diet
Joel Fuhrman, MD, President, Nutritional Research Foundation
Kristi Funk, MD, Co-Founder & Medical Director, Pink Lotus Breast Center
Mimi Guarneri, MD, President, Academy of Integrative Health and Medicine
Thom Hartmann, Top 10 syndicated radio host, bestselling author
David Katz, MD, MPH, President, True Health Initiative
Dr. Eiline Kingsley, Founder, Sustainable Research Institute
Michael Klaper, MD, Founder, Moving Medicine Forward
Ashley Koff RD, CEO and Founder of the Better Nutrition Program
Anna Lappé, author of Diet for a Hot Planet
Dave Murphy, founder, Food Democracy Now!
John Robbins, Author, Diet for a New America, President, Food Revolution Network
Ocean Robbins, CEO, Food Revolution Network
Leah Segedie, Author of Green Enough and founder of Mamavation
Ayesha Sherzai, MD, Co-director, Alzheimer’s Prevention Program at Loma Linda University
Dean Sherzai, MD, PhD, Co-director, Alzheimer’s Prevention Program at Loma Linda University
Alicia Silverstone, Actress & Author of The Kind Diet
Erica Sonnenburg, PhD and Justin Sonnenburg, PhD, Authors, The Good Gut
Kelly Turner, PhD, author, Radical Remission
Heather White, CEO of Heather White Strategies and Former Executive Director of EWG
Marianne Williamson, Bestselling Author of Return To Love and A Politics of Love

Share FRN’s Posts of this Statement:

Resources For Civic Participation

US Voter Registration

Every state except North Dakota requires citizens to register if they want to become voters. Depending on your state, the registration deadline could be as much as a month before an election. To find out more, register, or confirm you’re registered, click here.

Vote Forward

Vote Forward volunteers send heartfelt handwritten letters to unregistered and low-propensity voters, encouraging them to participate in our democracy. The letters have been shown to significantly boost voter turnout. You can help with as little as 20 minutes, from the comfort of your home. Find out more and join in here.

A Note About Comments

When we first posted this article, we chose to welcome respectful comments because we wanted to encourage people to provide input and perspective. And, while the article generated a lot of passionate responses, we noticed that the overwhelming majority of them didn’t actually relate to the statement or to food policy. For that reason we have decided to disable comments on this post.

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