Thursday, May 2, 2013

Does the U.S. Government Subsidize the Wrong Foods?

Why is it that highly processed foods that require a lot of labor and manufacturing steps cost the least amount of money by the time they reach your local grocery store's shelves?   Fruits and vegetables require zero processing and yet them often cost more money.  The reason is:  government subsidies. 

At this time, government subsidies are not given to farmers producing anti-oxidant rich, organic fruits and vegetables.  Subsidies are given to the foods that now make up the majority of the American diet.  These foods are also the top three foods which can improve health dramatically by their omission from the diet.  They are sugar, wheat, and conventionally raised livestock. 

Corn in the form it is eaten today, which is in sodas as high fructose corn syrup or even off the cob if it is genetically modified corn, is linked to devastating diseases.  The majority of the corn in America is fed to livestock, and the meat from that livestock is very imbalanced in omega 3 to omega 6 fatty acids, also causing inflammation and disease in those who consume it regularly.   

The sugar industry received 1.2 billion in 2005
The wheat industry received 1.1 billion in 2005
The livestock industry received 2.7 million in 2005

The cheap cost that corporations are allowed to purchase these raw materials to produce their goods, such as corn in the case of soda,  also leaves them a surplus of money to heavily advertise their products.  That is why you will see more commercials ($2 billion/year) for Coke and Pepsi than any finished organic product.  The Coke itself costs almost nothing to make and its value is entirely created by its image rather than its ability to replenish the human body in any way. 

What is the real cost of processed foods made with wheat, corn, and conventionally raised livestock?  Socially and ecologically, this is only a partial list. 
Some environmental activist groups, who also point to the fact that these crops are destructive to the land and environment, estimate that without the impact of subsidies on price, a quarter pounder with cheese would cost around $50.

Natural health aducators remind us that the ripple effect of the high consumption of subsidized foods include unnecessarily high healthcare costs and pain and suffering of individuals.  According to the American Diabetes Association, in 2007, Americans paid $174 billion for diabetes care.  That is more than the war in Afghanistan and Iraq that year combined with the cost of Hurricane Katrina relief efforts.  Recall that diabetes is easily preventable and Type II is reversible from a previous health tip. 
You may have heard that livestock production is responsible for more pollution than cars in the U.S.  Outside of the U.S., there is also an ecological effect that is important to note.  The U.S. imports 90% of all Central American beef exports for burgers each year.  Each burger takes 55 square feet of tropical forest permanently cleared for grazing land. 

Vote for sustainable, healthy food choices with your dollars.  Continue to shop locally and organically.  Choosing organic foods pays HUGE health, energy, and ecological dividends.


"The burger that ate a rain forest."  London Times, Feb 26. 1989.
Government Subsidies: The Reason Why Cancer-Causing Foods Are So Cheap and Readily Available.  Friday, October 12, 2007 by: Sarah Aitken,

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