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In an age where almost everything we eat is produced outside of public view, whistleblowers are critical to maintaining the integrity of our food systems. These principled insiders are often the first people to warn the public — often at grave personal cost — when food is unsafe, when workers face inhumane conditions, when food labels mislead consumers, and when animals and the environment are being abused. But who defends these front-line defenders?
Our guest, attorney Amanda Hitt, has been a champion and visionary for protecting and empowering food system whistleblowers for over a decade. As the founder and director of the Government Accountability Project’s Food Integrity Campaign, Hitt’s clients have included USDA food safety inspectors in ultra-high-speed slaughterhouses, contract poultry farmers faced with exploitative contracts and company retaliation, and animal researchers privy to taxpayer-funded waste and cruelty. In addition to litigating whistleblowers’ cases, Hitt and her team work to draw public attention to these whistleblowers’ stories and to turn their revelations into systemic legal reforms. In this episode, Hitt takes us inside the world of animal agriculture industry whistleblowers. We speak with Hitt about her clients’ stories and motivations, the patchwork of laws that provide protections and redress for whistleblowers, the reality behind her video game “Bacon Defender,” and why food animal welfare, public health, and worker rights are inextricably intertwined.
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Food policies—even if seemingly fair or innocent—have disproportionately harmed communities of color and their health. Legal scholar Andrea Freeman asks questions of how we use the law to prove and address such injustices. In this archival episode, she shares more about this legal process, and the broader ways to challenge the interests of Big Food.
Chewing the Fat is a podcast from the Yale Sustainable Food Program. We cover people making change in the complex world of food and agriculture. We’re home to brilliant minds: activists, academics, chefs, entrepreneurs, farmers, journalists, policymakers, and scientists (to name a few!). Taken together, their work represents a reimagining of mainstream food movements, challenging myths and tropes as well as inspiring new ways of collaborating.
The podcast is an aural accompaniment to our on-campus Chewing the Fat speaker series, aiming to broaden our content beyond New Haven. Episodes are released every two weeks, featuring interviews, storytelling and more.
On the farm, in the classroom, and around the world, the Yale Sustainable Food Program (YSFP) grows food-literate leaders. We create opportunities for students to experience food, agriculture, and sustainability as integral parts of their education and everyday lives. For more information, please visit sustainablefood.yale.edu.