Friday, February 17, 2012

Please, Gov, stop subsidizing obesity and disease

It is not just by chance, or i would even say by choice, that Americans are getting fatter and more diseased (referring especially to diabetes and cancer). The United States government is subsidizing it. This was reconfirmed for me by Michael Pollan's book, In Defense of Food: An Eater's Manifesto:
"Since 1980, the price of sweeteners and added fat, most of them derived respectively from subsidized corn and subsidized soy beans, dropped 20%, while the price of fresh fruits and vegetables increased 40%."
Now, i know that there is a (mostly Republican) school of thought in America that the government should not be responsible for people's health. But i also do not think the government should be responsible for the profit margins of the corn and soy bean lobby (read: Monsanto, et. al.)!

No Monsanto image from
Even if one was to believe that the government were not responsible for the health of the people (because in my mind, this is one of their primary responsibilities), shouldn't they at least be interested in not wasting money? Because the side effects of financing junk "food" are costing us all:
"In 1960, Americans spent 17.5% of their income on food and 5.2% of national income on health care. Since then those numbers have flipped. Spending on food has fallen to 9.9% while spending on health care has climbed to 16% of national income." (In Defense of Food) 
The problem with making the least healthy food the cheapest is that then poor people will eat it, and they will get sick and need medical care, which will not come cheap, quickly causing them to end up broke. Once broke they will keep eating the cheap junk "food," stay sick, and end up calling for your ambulances, my dear non-poor blog readers, and filling up your emergency rooms, spending up your tax money as they go.

(Quotation marks on food because this book makes it very clear how high-fructose, synthesized foods are not actually food - you could eat a piece of paper, that doesn't make it food - and how since the 1980s, it no longer has to be labeled as imitation food, as was required in the past.)

So what i request in this blog post is very simple, nothing radical:

Let's simply subsidize fresh fruits and vegetables, not corn and soy. If artificial sweeteners were prohibitively expensive, as they ought to be, being luxuries and all, maybe people might start considering the fresh fruits and vegetables that are so expensive now. Will this cure every unhealthy person from their junk food habits? Probably not. But it will make those of us that are interested in our health (poor or not), economically able to feed ourselves the fresh produce that our bodies and immune system needs.

Come on Congress, come on Obama, and you can even get in on the act, state and local officials!! Let's vote for health! Throw your influence behind foods that won't breed disease - maybe you'll eventually even find a way to turn a profit on that just like you do on the junk food! However you've got to do it, let's please:

Cut subsidies for corn and soy! Then, let's even subsidize fresh fruits and vegetables instead!:-)

Fruits and veggies image from :-)


  1. awesome post, thanks for sharing! and this may seem minute and not completely related to what you wrote, but i think being educated about food, even on a basic level, is something that will also help such a movement. some people are still being TAUGHT about what it is to eat fresh, normal, food. a lot of us may talk about home cooked meals with a sense of nostalgia and respect for our parent's cooking, but it also taught us the difference between food, and "food". a dopo!

  2. Great post, Ryan, and very well written. I agree 100%! I've also heard it called "edible food-like substances", a name which makes it very unappealing to eat.

  3. I agree 100%! But I don't have much hope in congress doing anything, they recently declared Pizza and a vegetable, and the companies that make HFCS have "public service" ads about how Corn Syrup is natural and good for you. It will take a lot of time and effort to change the minds of consumers because of things like this. What gets me is I don't understand how artificial lab crated food could be cheaper than natural, organic food! you don't have to do anything to organics.. I don't get it.


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