By Christopher Bedford The rabid budget bear in the Congressional chambers is the cost of health care. There will be no prospect for a balanced budget until those costs are substantially reduced, not just "brought under control". Tinkering with eligibility requirements and reimbursement rates will not solve the problem (and probably will reduce the quality of care available to the increasing number of Americans who have no or substandard health care insurance or rely on Medicare). I believe the principle opportunity to reduce these costs lies in the quality and content of the food we eat. Seventy-five percent (75%) of healthcare costs go to treat chronic disease. The vast majority of these diseases from asthma to arthritis to diabetes to allergies and coronary disease have a strong food-health link. We could eat our way to better health while supporting the development of diverse, sustainable regional and local food systems nationwide. I believe this path offers our nation a way out of our increasingly desperate financial and ecological situation. Which brings me to the 2012 Farm Bill. Dr. Phil Lee, Dr. Walter Willett, and Dr. Andrew Weil have proposed a Charter for a Healthy Farm Bill. This short charter presents with clarity and strength, the principles that should govern the 2012 Farm Bill. Combined with the values presented by A Sustainable Ag Perspective on Food Safety developed by the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition we have a road map to how we might shape the 2012 Farm Bill debate. Let's develop a national food citizens (as opposed to food consumers) campaign in support of these goals. --- Chris Bedford is a food and farm advocate, organizer, and filmmaker (www.chrisbedfordfilms.com). He is also President of The Center for Economic Security.