If you suddenly find yourself in charge of a vast bureaucracy that, unfortunately, governs a shrinking base of supplicants, what are you to do? Well, if you're Tom Vilsack, you redefine your mission:
"This is a department that intersects the lives of Americans two to three times a day. Every single American," he said. "So I absolutely see the constituency of this department as broader than those who produce our food -- it extends to those who consume it."
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With President Obama at the government's helm, food activists have begun drafting policy wish lists calling for more nutritious food in schools, money for school gardens, and incentives and support for small producers who find it difficult to compete with industrial-size farms.
With a shrinking number of farmers, the poor USDA has been able to waste mere billions. But if it can start messing with every single eater, it can quickly get up to the trillionosphere now favored by government. The amount of money that can be spent inspecting every household's cupboards alone is staggering. We are what we eat, after all, and if the government doesn't care about who we are, what good is it?