Friday, July 31, 2009

Follow up on obesity policy: reduce agriculture subsidies

I rarely agree with the Wall Street Journal, that screed of naked capitalism on social policy. Indeed, the linked article decries government attempts to tax fattening foods, not to mention government involvement in the health system. Nonetheless, the capitalist pigs make a good point:

But Congress could give up its own bad habits right now. Start by reforming agricultural “policy,” meaning subsidies that help make unhealthy food artificially cheap. Most of the new calories in the American diet come from processed foods, and taxpayers have underwritten them since the New Deal with huge price supports for commodity crops like corn and soy.

These are processed into low-quality calories that make their way to consumers as refined starches, high-fructose corn syrup, hydrogenated oils and feed for livestock. Most farmers receiving ag subsidies are actually prohibited by law from growing “specialty crops”—i.e., fruits and vegetables—as protectionism for California and Florida produce growers. Call the 19% of kids who are obese the children of the corn.

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