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How U.S. farm policy makes us fatter and sicker

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By David from Truth, Justice, and the American Way,cross-posted by MetaBlog

“For most of history, after all, the poor have typically suffered from a shortage of calories, not a surfeit. So how is it that today the people with the least amount of money to spend on food are the ones most likely to be overweight?”

A good article, except:

“The devil is in the details, no doubt. Simply eliminating support for farmers won’t solve these problems; overproduction has afflicted agriculture since long before modern subsidies.”

I wonder why we don’t have a plague of “overproduction” of iPods, staplers, or cars? Perhaps it’s because their prices are set by the market, not bureaucrats.

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Edited by GreedyCapitalist
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I also don't agree with this excuse:

"the most unhealthful calories in the marketplace [are] the only ones the poor can afford" . Eating healthy does not have to be expensive.

While I agree that being poor does not doom one to being fat, it is true that eating healthy is more expensive. The information cost of learning how to establish and maintain a healthy diet is just as real as the monetary cost. I've spent many hours researching nutrition and reading labels, which a poor person might not have the time or education for. In that sense, I think it is fair to blame the government for the American obesity problem.

One thing the article doesn't mention is the counter-productive effect of food labeling. Most people are not qualified to interpret the "Nutrition Facts" on food products, yet the existence of a mandatory standard makes it difficult for the market to innovate in food labeling. The "food pyramid" is another propaganda tool that reflects the power of industry lobbies as much as dietary science.

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The threshold of a healthy diet can be reached fairly inexpensively. Because it often requires cooking/baking from scratch - it is more time consuming and thus requires more planning and organization. If you are not using processed or partially prepared foods in your cooking - you do not need to be too concerned with food labels.

IMHO, obesity problem is not caused by lack of resources (monetary or of time) but by mental and physical laziness. (If we were talking here about Cuba, for example, and all there was available was processed foods - then I would buy to the idea that the government of Cuba is responsible for Cuban's obesity problem). US is one of the most economically free countries in the world, one of the riches, and one with least expensive healthy foods available in great variety.

Another thing that bugs me is when parents complain that it is hard to make kids eat healthy. It is (or can be) incredibly easy. If all the kid is presented with are healthy choices there are no other choices he can make. As with many things - it is not what you do (or eat) occasionally - it is what you do (or eat) on regular bases which counts the most.

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