A reader exclaims:
Look! We almost had a national food plan – it got to the white paper stage.
This is a topic in which I am extremely interested and see the many challenges. In my mind, it is a fact that we are harming our health, the planet, animals, and the economy with the current SAD (Standard American Diet). So many places to go with this it’s hard to be succinct. First off, I agree with Bittman, Pollan, et al on the goal they are trying to achieve, but I have issues with the means. Anything like a “National Food Policy” coming from Obama will be derided immediately as nanny-state-ism by half the country. But there are pieces I think he should address anyway:
The corn and soy subsidies have got to stop. Why is our gov’t subsidizing the thing that is making us sick and costing us billions in health care costs (maybe trillions if you factor in other costs to the economy)? And while we’re at it, I have ZERO problem with government taxing heavily sugar-laden “foods”.
Food safety: Get the pesticides and chemicals out of our food (and our personal care products, while you’re at it). Most of the 80,000 the chemicals used in the US today have not been suitably tested by the EPA and these are creating tremendous hidden health and environmental issues.
Regulations for meat producers for both food safety and animal rights should go forward. It SHOULD make meat more expensive and that’s OK. We should be eating much less meat anyway, so let the higher prices reduce consumption so it’s a win-win.
But secondly, maybe what these writers are really trying to achieve is this: get people talking about these issues to raise awareness. Maybe the government isn’t the sole answer to all these interrelated problems, but we can’t get the market to adjust unless people understand the problem and want to make changes.
Maybe Glenn Beck can help: I just read that he has health issues (an autoimmune disease) which he is treating with diet and lifestyle changes. Hopefully he’ll become a source for all his viewers on the benefits of healthy eating and lifestyle. We really need someone like him (i.e. from the other side of the aisle) to support this discussion to reach all those who say “keep your gov’t hands off my Big Gulp”.
Love, love, love that you have brought this issue to your website. Would love to see more.
Update from a reader with more:
In regard to your skepticism regarding the Pollan-Bittman reworking of national food policy, I would like to call to your attention an effort to actually do that, just not in a direction P-B would likely deem appropriate.
Rather than ever more micromanagement of the national diet, with longer lists of “bad” foods and shorter lists of “good” foods, my (small, non-profit, moms-in-sneakers) organization, Healthy Nation Coalition, is calling for a scaling back of the Dietary Guidelines for Americans so that they are focused on the acquisition of adequate essential nutritional (at one time the sole focus of federal dietary guidance). Rather than continue a (failed) effort to prevent chronic disease through avoiding foods (eggs, whole milk, butter, gasp, even meat) that are wholesome and nourishing and expanding the recommendations to include views on sustainability (despite the fact that, as far as I can tell, no farmers sit on the Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee), we think it would be a good idea if federal dietary recommendations stuck to clear, science-based advice that the public could actually use.
There’s been some media attention paid to this angle recently as well, and we think the folks in Washington might be ready to listen to an alternative to P-B.
Your reader asked: “The corn and soy subsidies have got to stop. Why is our gov’t subsidizing the thing that is making us sick and costing us billions in health care costs (maybe trillions if you factor in other costs to the economy)?” Easy answer: because these crops are grown primarily to beturned into meat at torture factories, and the government is devoted to heavily subsidizingAmerica’s extreme over-consumption of meat.
Subsidized fossil fuels are turned into artificial fertilizer; artificial fertilizer is turned into further-subsidized corn and soy; corn and soy are turned into meat – all in an extremely cruel, inefficient, and polluting process. We are eating fossil fuel products, and about half of the nitrogen in our bodies came from fossil fuels. It is outrageously unsustainable, but it is the only way to provide such vast quantities of cheap meat.