Contributing Monkie G Living Staff Monkies
Published on December 24, 2008
Ever wonder why a salad costs more than a Big Mac? The Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM) is speaking out about the recent Farm Bill passed by the House of Representatives, and they don’t like it. Here’s why: the bill provides the greatest subsidies to farmers who produce arguably the least healthy food – turning on its head the food pyramid of federally recommended daily servings. For example, the food pyramid recommends that one-third of a person’s diet should include fruits and vegetables, but the Farm Bill subsidies for fruits and vegetables equal less than one percent of the total spending. Nearly three-quarters of the subsidies go to the meat and dairy industry, while meat only makes up about one-fifth of the recommended diet. Take a look at the comparison here.
What it boils down to is priorities. It’s clear where the federal farm priorities lie – with big agribusiness and “farm states” – because of the political pork-barreling game. The Bush Administration is calling the $286 billion Farm Bill bloated — and it may be, but what seems more likely is that the bill has its priorities mixed up, giving huge subsidies to those that need them the least. Indeed, it would be a shame to simply cut funding rather than rearrange it – especially during a time when the U.S. is spending about $1 billion per day in Iraq.
Imagine a Farm Bill that subsidizes local farms and local farmer’s markets so that everyone can get cheap, healthy food.
And here’s an important piece that’s missing. For the earth conscious, the physicians have raised an important point – that what is not good for the earth (over-emphasis on meat production) is not good for human health (obesity). The health issue remains a gaping hole in the burgeoning green movement because there has not been enough emphasis on the connection between cleaner, greener living and better health – particularly with respect to eating healthy. In this case, it exciting to see doctors making many of the same arguments as environmentalists — even if for different reasons — and it’s time to change the long-standing American tradition of over-subsidizing the meat industry.