Reaping the Harvest of Cheap Food

submitted by Joe Detelj

One can not venture too far afield today and not come across some feature article highlighting the health care problem of obesity. This is a crisis of epidemic proportions and attention at the local and national level has been in the main  directed at raising awareness of the short term and future consequences to the individual and society in general. Medical experts, as well as Michelle Obama’s recent widely publicized initiative  to address the issue offer the same homeopathic recommendations, more or less, that have become standard fare: get more exercise, have parents monitor their children’s diet, eat low fat processed food.

While no exception is taken to the recommendation of more exercise and less free market choices for the kids, most if not all the emphasis is targeted at  the individual’s responsibility to “heal thyself”. What is blatantly left out of all the discussions is the reality of public policy. It has been a national policy that began in the Truman administration and continues on steroids to this day to convert a diverse, thriving, healthy and decentralized farm economy into a centralized, monocultural, corporate dominated agra-business. The mantra is, cheap food is good.

Well, we are reaping the harvest of that policy and it can not sustain a label of goodness. The sheer volume and availability of cheap processed food, the privatizing of school cafeterias, the nutrient deficiencies of today’s supermarket vegetables, the convenience of sugar, salt, and saturated fats, bio-engineered calories, all rest on a foundation of public subsidies, special tax treatment, and non-enforcement of existing anti trust laws.

So please, it is time we give equal if not greater focus on the root cause of this epidemic. The farmer, the obese child, more often than not from a home with a below average income level, are not the major culprits. We need to change the structural pillars upon which this problem rests and that is the board rooms and hollowed halls of Washington.


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