April 22, 2007

Our Congress forces the poor to be fat

In the history of the world, obesity was a problem that only the rich had.

In America and in the last 30 years, obesity has become a problem with many poor people.


Read no further than Michael Pollan's article in today's Sunday New York Times.

Why, you may ask is the worst food, also the cheapest food? There's just one answer: your government. The federal government gives billions of dollars to "farmers" to keep twinkies cheap; and it gives no money to help grow spinach or carrots.
A public-health researcher from Mars might legitimately wonder why a nation faced with what its surgeon general has called “an epidemic” of obesity would at the same time be in the business of subsidizing the production of high-fructose corn syrup. But such is the perversity of the farm bill: the nation’s agricultural policies operate at cross-purposes with its public-health objectives. And the subsidies are only part of the problem. The farm bill helps determine what sort of food your children will have for lunch in school tomorrow.

But as powerful as the food consumer is — it was that consumer, after all, who built a $15 billion organic-food industry and more than doubled the number of farmer’s markets in the last few years — voting with our forks can advance reform only so far. It can’t, for example, change the fact that the system is rigged to make the most unhealthful calories in the marketplace the only ones the poor can afford. To change that, people will have to vote with their votes as well — which is to say, they will have to wade into the muddy political waters of agricultural policy.
Be powerful. Tell your Representative today that you want a farm (food) bill that supports local, small farmers to grow healthy foods. And that you don't want your $25 billion dollars going to corporations that just grow corn syrup.

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