Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Why Does A Salad Cost More Than A Big Mac?

Because of massive federal farm subsidies that encourage Americans to eat the very foods of which federal nutrition programs say we should be eating less:

The Farm Bill, a massive piece of federal legislation making its way through Congress, governs what children are fed in schools and what food assistance programs can distribute to recipients. The bill provides billions of dollars in subsidies, much of which goes to huge agribusinesses producing feed crops, such as corn and soy, which are then fed to animals. By funding these crops, the government supports the production of meat and dairy products—the same products that contribute to our growing rates of obesity and chronic disease. Fruit and vegetable farmers, on the other hand, receive less than 1 percent of government subsidies.

The government also purchases surplus foods like cheese, milk, pork, and beef for distribution to food assistance programs—including school lunches. The government is not required to purchase nutritious foods.
I myself am personally against federal farm subsidies. I find it ludicrous that our government pays corporate farming companies (let's face it, the traditional image of the small American family farmer is now nothing more than just that: an image) to grow, and in many cases not grow, certain foods. What ever happened to free market principles as they pertain to economic consumption? And the fact that this same government actively encourages the consumption of unhealthy foods by the nation's poor is to me akin to class warfare, much like zoning laws that allow poorer neighborhoods to be flooded with fast food restaurants. Why are there no nutritional guidelines for these food assistance programs? Answer: because lobbyists for Big Agro have more say over what you and your children will eat than you do, especially if you're poor. Remember when the Reagan administration tried to reclassify ketchup as a vegetable for school lunch programs? This is not the way government is supposed to work.



Anonymous said...

Dude, you could write about food stuff all day long and I would read it. You need to focus a little less on healthcare/republicans and a little more on food topics.

Those pyramids boggle my mind. I'm not as opposed to food subsidies as you are, but I'd be fine if they were limited to Ma & Pa Farmer.

My buddy's family owns and operates a farm in Aquilla, TX. A few years ago they converted their entire crop to corn so they could get the ethanol funding (as I understand it).

JBW said...

Thanks one L, but Ma and Pa Farmer barely exist anymore. Farming is now largely a corporate enterprise in this country and I oppose giving those companies subsidies just as I oppose corporate welfare.

And as for ethanol, I think that it's one of the biggest boondoggles foisted on the American public (and I'm an alternative energy supporting liberal). It's extremely inefficient for how much money we sink into the technology but the Big Corn makes billions off of it and high fructose corn syrup so it ain't going anywhere anytime soon (no offense to your buddy's fam).

Anonymous said...

None taken. I've read some of the facts about corn ethanol as well. I just threw that in there as an interesting note. I'm not sure his particular farm is in cahoots with any particular major company... or at least not on a decades-long basis or anything. You're right, I am sure most of the little guys are gone, but that's why I'm OK with throwing a subsidy their way. The big guys can fend for themselves.