Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Why the poor eat badly

"A few years ago, an obesity researcher at the University of Washington named Adam Drewnowski ventured into the supermarket to solve a mystery. He wanted to figure out why it is that the most reliable predictor of obesity in America today is a person’s wealth. 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?

That’s because the current farm bill helps commodity farmers by cutting them a check based on how many bushels they can grow, rather than, say, by supporting prices and limiting production, as farm bills once did. The result? A food system awash in added sugars (derived from corn) and added fats (derived mainly from soy), as well as dirt-cheap meat and milk (derived from both). By comparison, the farm bill does almost nothing to support farmers growing fresh produce. A result of these policy choices is on stark display in your supermarket, where the real price of fruits and vegetables between 1985 and 2000 increased by nearly 40 percent while the real price of soft drinks (a k a liquid corn) declined by 23 percent. The reason the least healthful calories in the supermarket are the cheapest is that those are the ones the farm bill encourages farmers to grow." Thanks Annie


Anonymous said...

That sounds as if it could be true, but I don't totally agree with it. Fruits and vegetables aren't that expensive you know..

Anonymous said...

Note that it is the corn syrup and corn by products in question here. Price subsidies for a mono-crop agricultural economy here in the midwest have turned my state and every neighboring state into one big cornfield. The price of all the healthy foods has increased by a large amount, while the cheap food, the mac and cheese...and soda have all stayed cheap. Likewise in the last few decades our cities have changed causing the smaller groceries and supermarkets to go under. The result being that people have to drive three or more miles to go buy food, which they will buy in bulk and thus avoid purchasing anything that might spoil.