MarketWatch: Munchie Nation
4/25/2007 4:22:40 PM
by Alan Hall
..For centuries the poor were skinny and the rich were fat, but not today. Why? Pollan describes a food system ruled not by the free market, but by the farm bill. Even with packaging, marketing and dozens of elaborately manufactured ingredients, junk food made from subsidized corn and wheat is cheaper per calorie than healthy food. "A result of these policy choices is on stark display in your supermarket, where the real price of fruits and vegetables between 1985 and 2000 increased by nearly 40 percent while the real price of soft drinks (a k a liquid corn) declined by 23 percent."
America's agricultural miracle began early in the 19th century. The surprising thing for some might be that it took 100 years for the productive social mood exemplified by the dictum, "America is the bread-basket of the world," to fully mature. The surprise for others is that it has resulted in an "epidemic of obesity."
In view of the crop subsidies that encourage the production of corn, wheat and soybeans (sugar and fat) at the expense of roots, leaves and vegetables, it is easy to see a connection between two types of social behavior -- legislation and the epidemic of obesity. But how to account for the widespread embrace of cheap, unhealthy food by so many who could afford better?
Biology is one answer. Low corn prices prompted the promotion and use of near-addictive high-fructose corn syrup (HFCS) by the food industry. HFCS is super-refined sugar that has been shown to suppress natural appetite control in the human brain. Small-scale studies of HFCS's effects in rats ended in health disaster. Now, large-scale inadvertent studies are underway in the general population. Preliminary results are not encouraging...The cheap food supply is connected to social activity in an immense feedback loop that spans decades, and cheap oil is at the source of it. Somebody light the candles. When ethanol, oil, terrorism, climate change, adult sedentary video-kids and government inertia all collide at the dinner table with the vanishing honeybees… that will be a meal to remember. (extracted from ElliottWave.com)
Protect yourselves against junk food, corporate farming
Few human activities have the kind of impact on the Earth as the production and consumption of food. This is why we need to pay more attention to where farm funding is being directed with the Farm Bill.
To begin with, all farmers should have access to land conservation programs, and local small farms should be given funding and encouragement. The current Farm Bill does not provide for this and instead fosters large factory farms.
We need a Farm Bill that supports healthy, sustainable agriculture programs. The Farm Bill should:
- Ensure that all farmers have access to working land conservation programs, such as the Conservation Security Program, in order to be good stewards of the land.
- Foster the growth of local food systems - this will not only give consumers more nutritious options, but it will drastically cut global warming pollution from large factory farms.
- Redirect "safety net" payments to those farmers who need them the most.
Randolph Directo, webmaster
Tell Congress to ensure that the new Farm Bill will promote good stewardship of the land.