A backstory - Input Junkie
Unfortunately, a lot of people (especially Michael Pollan) see this sort of thing, and they conclude that the best solution is to subsidize veggies.
This time, for sure!
Link thanks to andrewducker
I'm surprised that so much more of the subsidies go to meat and dairy than to grains, since most of what I hear about is corn subsidies.
The chart may not include that the price floor for sugar acts as an indirect subsidy for corn syrup.
The food pyramid just indicates that the government policies are inconsistent-- there's been a lot of disagreement about whether it's even close to optimal nutrition.
Any subsidy distorts the economy. Subsidies take money from people and redistribute it to the politically connected. The chart shows how that works. What it doesn't show is that the subsidies benefit big agribusinesses (the ones that can afford to lobby) at the expense of smaller farmers.
Foreign farmers are a bugbear. Why should we be afraid of imported food? Do we think the USA is going to come under siege and have to rely entirely on home-grown food for long periods of time?
|Date:||March 11th, 2010 08:45 pm (UTC)|| |
Except that food stamps aren't essentially a farm subsidy. That's one of the reasons I like them better.
Food stamps are spent through the marketplace. If food stamp recipients want to spend them on food from small farms instead of big agribiz, they can make that decision for themselves without having to go through Congress or a state legislature.
Is it difficult for small operations to set up to accept food stamps?
|Date:||March 12th, 2010 02:17 am (UTC)|| |
|Date:||March 12th, 2010 02:21 am (UTC)|| |
And here's some info
about getting SNAP point-of-sale equipment for farmer's markets.
My point was that it's very hard to predict how a big subsidy program will turn out. It's hard to knew exactly what needs to be subsidized. It's certain that people will game the system.
Also, because subsidies (unless they're totally corrupt) are going to be for simple, measurable traits, your best outcome is large quantities of low quality goods, as it becomes clear that either some important qualities are hard to measure or weren't included among what gets measured.
I don't know if subsidies are the only reason. It's not as if lettuce costs more than hamburger in the supermarket. Meat can be kept in the freezer for a long time, and hamburgers are a fast-moving, high-density item. Salads are much lower in density, fewer are sold, and there's probably a lot more waste of salad ingredients in fast-food restaurants.
It would be interesting to compare meat to vegetables-- vegetables can be frozen.
lettuce, if frozen carelessly or left frozen too long, becomes beyond inedible. a burger patty (especially with the cheap cut fast food uses) still tastes pretty much the same even if it gets freezer burn - and a simple vacuum seal prevents that, I use one at home. since lettuce is kinda the main ingredient in salad, waste is definitely going to be an issue.
oh, and iceberg is the only lettuce that freezes even somewhat well; all the pretty colored ones that add a nice touch to a salad are basicaly slime once they defrost.
I'd done a bit of topic drift and was thinking about plant foods which are good for you, not just salads. I agree that salad doesn't lend itself to being frozen, but peas and green beans and such freeze well.
I haven't tried making a salad out of frozen veggies.
|Date:||March 11th, 2010 08:52 pm (UTC)|| |
Also, of course, corn subsidies are meat/dairy subsidies, since beeves consume enormous amounts of corn (despite it not actually being very good for them or the meat they produce).
Some of thecorn subsidies wouldn't be included in this kind of chart because the corn isn't used for food; it's used in gas replacements and additives, and a lot of other things lke makeup, furniture, fabric... you can even make biodegradable dishes out of it.
|Date:||March 12th, 2010 06:22 am (UTC)|| |
this chart is from a peta front and therefore complete BS. it counts grain used to feed cows as 'meat and dairy'. it says as much on the page it is pulled from. actual subsidies for meat and dairy are tiny compared to the corn/soy/wheat trifecta.
plus the food pyramid is wrong because most people cannot healthfully consume that level of grains even at a high level of physical activity like being a day laborer. it is in fact derived uch more from 'gee, how can we get people to eat all this cheap subsidized grain' and not so much from actual health-related research.
I wouldn't be a bit surprised, but I'd appreciate a source for that.
The whole agricultural subsidy makes me laugh. I live in Nebraska, an ag state if there ever was one, and I hear the local conservative farmers bitch constantly about non-ag government spending. These are also the same guys that will take government money (subsidies and other sources) with both hands wide, wide open.
|Date:||March 13th, 2010 06:00 am (UTC)|| |
you can start with fa-rm.org/blog. http://www.fa-rm.org/blog/labels/Nutritional%20Guidelines.html
that set of posts is a decent overview. and of course taubes covers ancel keys' corruption and how that led to saturated fat and cholesterol being demonized very rapidly.
certainly the food pyramid was not the product of a conspiracy against people, but it's not based on sound medical evidence, either.
Thanks for the link, but I was especially interested in finding evidence that the first chart was from a PETA front.
|Date:||March 15th, 2010 05:41 am (UTC)|| |