May 30, 2015 by

With Dr. Denis Mukwege at Harvard's graduation.
With Dr. Denis Mukwege at Harvard’s graduation.
I like to think that I may be the only city slicker newspaper columnist who knows how to vaccinate a sheep, weld iron and drive a tractor. I grew up on a farm in Oregon and really treasure that background – and that’s one reason I periodically take aim in my column at industrial farming today. Today’s agricultural system often fails farmers and consumers alike – hence my column about how it takes two gallons of water to produce a single walnut.
Read the column and take my quiz – do you consume more water by taking a shower or by eating a hamburger? – and let’s start a conversation about how to make our food system work better for everyone.
I must say, I find it fascinating to see the revulsion at FIFA corruption, and yet the complacent acceptance of systemic corruption in American politics. We should be upset at the rot in FIFA, and the rot at home!
In response to my Thursday column on corruption in the U.S. political system, LaFaye commented: “I find it disappointing that, despite rightly decrying the ‘disgraceful money-paced political system…,’ Kristof overlooked the only candidate who is taking an unambiguous and credible stand against money in politics” – Bernie Sanders. I agree that Sanders has spoken forcefully about the issue, but I think that if we have to wait for President Sanders to solve the problem, we’re in trouble. Bernie Sanders is not going to be elected. Good for him if he can drive more discussion of the issue, but for those of us trying to call attention to the underlying policy problem, it seems a distraction to get into the Sanders candidacy – if I have a paragraph about Sanders, then I have to take out a couple of paragraphs about something else.
And what does that photo at the top have to do with rural America, soccer or political corruption? Absolutely nothing. That’s me with Dr. Denis Mukwege, a heroic Congolese doctor who repairs fistulas and has become a powerful advocate for women and peace in his country, challenging those warlords who use rape as a weapon of war. He was almost assassinated by gunmen, he continues to get death threats, and yet he perseveres. I met him years ago in Congo and have been awed by his courage, so I was thrilled to watch him receive an honorary degree at Harvard University on Thursday – not to mention a standing ovation from the crowd. I’m in that funny garb because I’m a Harvard board member, and that means dressing up for commencement as if it were 1650!

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