Can you tell us what your current diet is? If it is not vegetarian, why not?
Scott Yanoff, MILWAUKEE
I still eat meat. But I eat a lot less. I have enormous respect for vegetarians, but I believe there are ways to eat meat that are good for you and good for the environment.
What's your guiltiest pleasure, and how do you rationalize it?
I like French fries, and I probably shouldn't eat them very often. I actually came up with a rule: Eat all the junk food you want as long as you cook it yourself. One reason we struggle with obesity today is that special-occasion foods like French fries, cakes and cookies have become so easy to obtain.
Do you think organic farming can be done on a large scale, bringing cost down closer to that of nonorganic foods?
Michael Lawrence, NASHVILLE
I think organic food will come down in price. But we need to pay people a living wage so they can afford to buy real food. In the 1970s, the rise of fast food paralleled the collapse of family wages. In a way, cheap food has subsidized that collapse. We have to rebuild those two.
Can small changes in American shopping and eating patterns make a difference collectively?
GRAND RAPIDS, MICH.
Without question. Look, you get to vote with your fork three times a day. That's a lot more votes you have than in any other realm of life. Getting that vote right even once a day makes a difference.
How can consumers ensure a strong food system for future generations?
We need to vote with our forks as consumers. We also need to make our agricultural policies support the kind of food system we want--support farmers who are growing organic food or local food, not just big corn and soy farmers.
Are genetically modified crops harming our health?
Barbara Comnes, CHICAGO
The honest answer is, We don't know. There is a tremendous experiment being performed right now on humans and the environment with these crops, which are much less regulated than people realize. You should be able to decide if you want to eat genetically modified food. And we're not allowed to right now.
What can be done to end subsidies for agribusiness?
Kim Graves, CATSKILL, N.Y.
I don't agree that we need to eliminate subsidies. Government has been supporting farmers in one way or another since the Depression. There's been intervention in agriculture going back to the Old Testament. I think we should support our farmers, but we should get something more for it than cheap calories.
If you could change only one thing about our agricultural system, what would it be?
Scott Exo, PORTLAND, ORE.
I would bring animals back onto farms. We have seen a wholesale migration of animals to feedlots over the past 20 or 30 years. On a farm, their waste feeds the crops and the crops feed the animals--it's an elegant solution. When we took animals off the farms, we divided that solution into two big problems.