How a national food policy could save millions of American lives
How we make food and eat food has a bigger impact on American’s well-being than almost any other activity. The food industry is the largest sector of our economy and has a huge impact on everything from our health to the environment, inequality and the federal budget.
NY Times writer Mark Bittman (along with his coauthors) recently wrote an article explaining how a national food policy could save millions of American lives.
Because we don’t have a food policy, Bittman explains that many government policies currently conflict with one another:
The contradictions of our government’s policies around food become clear as soon as you compare the federal recommendations for the American diet, known as MyPlate, with the administration’s agricultural policies. While MyPlate recommends a diet of 50 percent vegetables and fruits, the administration devotes less than 1 percent of farm subsidies to support the research, production and marketing of those foods. More than 60 percent of that funding subsidizes the production of corn and other grains — food that is mostly fed to animals, converted to fuel for cars or processed into precisely the sort of junk the first lady is urging us to avoid.
How could one government be advancing two such diametrically opposed goals? By failing to recognize that an agricultural policy is not the same as a food policy — and that the former does not necessarily contribute to public health.
The government now finds itself in the absurd position of financing both sides in the war on Type 2 diabetes, a disease that, along with its associated effects, now costs $245 billion, or 23 percent of the national deficit in 2012, to treat each year. The government subsidizes soda with one hand, while the other writes checks to pay for insulin pumps. This is not policy; this is insanity.
Bittman recently embarked on a series of interviews with scientists, farmers, policy experts and food researchers for his series California Matters to explore how our food system works and see what researchers are doing to make it better.
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