Several monumental measures were passed in last week's U.S. election, giving Americans good reason to celebrate.
There were important victories for food and health in last week’s U.S. election. While much attention has been given to the presidential campaign, other advocates scored important wins that will improve citizens’ nutrition and wellbeing, as well as improved animal welfare. The Environmental Working Group explains why the following victories are cause for celebration.
Five regions in the U.S. have passed new measures to tax soda. These include Cook County, Illinois (home to Chicago); Boulder, Colorado; and three cities in northern California—Albany, San Francisco, and Oakland. All will tax 1 cent per ounce, although the increase in Boulder is 2 cents per ounce.
Anna Lappé, author of “Diet for a Hot Planet,” wrote on Civil Eats about why soda taxes are useful:
“First, they decrease consumption, which translates into lives saved and health care costs diverted. In Mexico, where a soda tax passed in 2014, consumption dropped by 12 percent in the first year…
“Another reason soda taxes work is because they raise revenue that can tip the scale back toward health equity. Berkeley’s soda tax revenue has topped $1.4 million a year and is funding programs like a popular gardening program in the city’s public schools, hydration stations at the public high school, and health outreach in communities of color, where diabetes rates are the highest.”
Improvements on factory farms
Voters in Massachusetts approved a measure that would ban the sale of products from pigs, hens, and calves that have not had enough room to move around, and ban the use of certain confinement practices. As Wayne Pacelle, president of the Human Society, points out:
“It is the fourth anti-factory farming ballot measure we’ve waged, and, with each one, we’ve increased our margin of victory as well as the actual reach of the measure.”
In Oregon, there was another victory in the fight against animal trafficking, with 70 percent of voters favoring a measure “to restrict the intrastate trade in ivory, rhino horn, and the parts of 10 other species and taxa.”
Minimum wage hikes
While Congress has been unable to agree on an increase in the federal minimum wage, currently stagnated at $7.25 per hour, the states of Maine, Arizona, and Colorado, as well as the city of Flagstaff, AZ, took matters into their own hands. By 2020 they will raise the minimum wage to $12 per hour, $15 in Flagstaff. In Washington state, where the minimum wage is currently $9.47 per hour, it will increase to $13.50 (via Associated Press).
Raise the Minimum Wage’s website states:
“In Maine and Flagstaff, the wage initiatives include a gradual phase-out of the outdated subminimum wage for tipped workers. These historic wins for the One Fair Wage movement mark the first time in 30 years that a state or city has eliminated the subminimum tipped wage, which restaurant industry lobbying has kept frozen at a shocking $2.13 at the federal level.”
These changes will go a long way toward helping the estimated 21.5 million Americans who are employed in the food industry, many of whom have difficulty supporting their families on such low incomes.