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Alack and alas, despite a petition that garnered over 50,000 signatures in less than 2 weeks, Obama yesterday named former Iowa Governor and ethanol proponent Tom Vilsack as the new Secretary of Agriculture. This was a blow for the sustainable agriculture community, who had hoped for someone a little less, well, corn-y. But, as Time magazine noted, we “could have done a lot worse than Vilsack.” Which is what happens when you’re already at rock bottom: there isn’t much farther down to go. As The Nation said: “Obama could have done better. Much better.”

Michael Pollan weighed in on NPR, saying that “the incoming administration’s focus should be on food and the people who eat it,” meaning not on growing food just to turn it into fuel.

Raj Patel laid it on with some amusing-with-a-wallop-of sadness-&-disappointment commentary on his blog.

[Late addition: Kerry Trueman–from Eating Liberally–weighs in on Huffington Post with “Maybe Vilsack Won’t Suck?”]

So what to do with these feelings of sadness and disappointment? Still have an itch in your finger to poke poke poke poke the new administration to make good on its promise for change? Then please sign this new petition, a letter to Vilsack reminding him what’s what.

And in other news, the USDA announced a new office of ECOSYSTEM SERVICES AND MARKETS.