A friend sent me an email with a New York Times article on Tuesday and it just blew my mind! I’m going to give you a brief-ish summary here but definitely read the full article if you have the time or interest.
In short, the farm bill is the root of A LOT of problems not only in the US, but all over the world (this sounds crazy, but just read a little more and you’ll be surprised to find that it’s an absolutely plausible claim!) The farm bill’s main purpose is to subsidize the farming of three staple crops we’re going to focus on: corn, wheat and soy.
Without going into too much detail, these subsidizes make it much easier for farmers to grow these three crops than fresh produce. As a result, there is a sizeable overproduction corn, soy and wheat. This leads to a drop in prices which in turn promotes the use of these three crops in the manufacture of anything manufacturers can possibly use them for. Grocery stores then end up with such oddities as high-fructose corn syrup and super-processed wheat treats like Twinkies. To make matters worse, since the subsidies favor wheat, corn and soy, it makes it more difficult for other farmers to make enough money growing other crops, diminishing the supply of healthy vegetables available to the average consumer and increasing prices.
As if making Americans and a growing percentage of the world’s population obese wasn’t enough, the overproduction of the aforementioned three crops also wreaks havoc on the farming of other countries, such as our neighbor Mexico. The US government has to do something with the surplus its farms yields, so it dumps then in less developed countries. The subsidies allow these crops to be sold at prices below the cost it took to grow them (which is illegal globally by the way, but the US is rich and powerful enough to get away with it.) Poor farmers must recuperate the money they put into farming in order to survive and cannot compete with these low prices. They eventually must leave their farms and migrate to cities or the US.
Isn’t this insane?! Next time you want to blame the economy for making people fat (taking the whole self control aspect out of the whole equation of course), think about the farm bill. Michael Pollan, the article’s author, mentioned that government is probably the only thing that can force change on the farm bill. However, few people even bring this issue up during elections. Maybe it’s time for that to change…
I didn’t include everything in this article since I didn’t want to bore you, but please check it out if you want to learn more–I left a lot of things out. Michael Pollan has also published some books so Google him/look him up on Amazon.
You can find the original article here: http://nyti.ms/qi0yf1