I just got off the phone on a conference call with Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsak and my “sisters” at the Silicon Valley Moms Group where I blog for Chicago Moms Blog. He claimed to be seriously concerned about childhood obesity, confiding that he was overweight as a child. However, when he was asked whether high fructose corn syrup (“HFCS”) will be eliminated as an acceptable ingredient in child school lunches under the soon to be revised Child Nutrition Act, he said, “I honestly don’t know if we would be as prescriptive as eliminating this . . .” and suggested that there would be a “push back” from Congress or a “push back politically.” I had the opportunity to ask him why government surplus food with high fructose corn syrup and dairy with artificial hormones and antibiotics are being “dumped” on our schools. I also asked him why it is more expensive to buy an organic apple than a cheeseburger at a fast food restaurant. His response showed me that he is not really serious about reducing the obesity rates and that it is more important to support and subsidize powerful corporate groups like the Corn Refiners Association, the American Corn Grower’s Association, the National Corn Grower’s Association and the like. He said that we will always be growing corn in our country and “we won’t stop providing resources to those who grow corn”. He said nothing about the dairy industry (perhaps my question was too long anyway). I wish I had a chance to follow up on his praise of corn and corn farmers. I would have suggested that we turn to a much better, much more nutritious and hardier crop – hemp. Yes, hemp oil contains wonderful omega 3s to feed our brain, while corn is a grain to bulk up in our tummies and feed to cattle which should be fed grass anyway. Growing hemp (which is illegal in our country) can also help with our deforestation of the globe as it is a hardy fast growing plant (no need for pesticides!) to use for making paper products and many many other useful things. Indeed, the Declaration of Independence is written on hemp. Vilsak had some promising things to say about the USDA’s plans to help to improve school lunches, but it all comes down to business as usual in politics. Those who have the money (corn lobbies) will always win over those who don’t (children receiving free lunches). Who will pay the cost? All of us. If any of these politicians will just look to the bigger picture here. What cost should we bear? The cost of losing the money from the corn growers or the cost of losing human lives to obesity and diabetes? There is no middle ground here. We need a Secretary of Agriculture who is committed to the people of the United States of America not to the corporations of America. Mr. Secretary, I implore you, stop the U.S. tradition of catering to our corn industry. Give our children healthier food and give our farmers a better crop to grow!