Big Farming & City “Farmers” Suck the Money and Health Out of Americans
So, I was flipping through my recent copy of Men’s Health when I saw something that caught my attention. And the more I looked at it, the angrier I got. So, I did some research to learn more about how our government is contributing to our country’s obesity problem.
You know all of those healthy fresh fruits and vegetables our government tells us we should eat more of? Things like apples, carrots, blueberries, broccoli, tomatoes, asparagus and avocados? Of the $261.9 billion the USDA paid in farm subsidies from 1995-2010 a paltry $262 million went towards apples, $207,000 (yes, that’s thousands) went towards blueberries, and only $6,900 benefited the avocado farmers. No one penny went towards tomatoes, broccoli and lettuce! In fact, just ten percent of all U.S. farms and so-called farmers collected a whopping 74 percent of the subsidies pot. I say “so-called” because you can live in the city and own farm land and still qualify for millions of dollars in subsidies!
The elite 10 percent of farms and “farmers” subsidies included corn ($77 billion), wheat ($32 billion), soybeans ($24.3 billion), sorghum ($6.1 billion), and dairy ($4.9 billion). Even tobacco received $1.1 billion in subsidies! When’s the last time you served your family up a heapin’ helpin’ of sorghum or sat around the table chewin’ tobacco or smokin’ a stogie?
And you might be thinking that crops like corn, wheat, rice and dairy are worthy recipients. However, those “food” items are primarily used for non-food purposes or manufactured into unhealthy, high-fat, high calorie, processed food items. Think junk food.
The small and medium sized farms that grow healthy fruits and vegetables or raise organic, preservative-free meats and dairy products get zilch, zero, nada! The people that toil in the soil to bring super, nutrient-rich foods to our tables continue to struggle.
Oh… and you might like to know that farm subsidies are going somewhere else… to the big cities. Yep. According to the Environmental Working Group’s updated 2011 Farm Subsidy Database, the government sent $394 million in farm subsidy payments in 2010 to residents of U.S. cities with populations of 100,000 or more. What? Haven’t you noticed all of those farms popping up near the Lucas Oil Stadium in downtown Indianapolis?
So, what can we do about it? With the stalling and political posturing going on in our Capitol, you still have time to contact your legislaters and tell them that you want to see more money allocated towards getting healthier food on our tables. Encourage subsidies to be given to the smaller farm operations who primarily grow “edible” crops as well as those “big” farmers who allocate a percentage of their farms to healthy fruits an vegetables. By increasing the supply of healthy foods, they will become more affordable.
After all, the economic cost of obesity to our country will increase to more than $280 billion dollars in 2012. I think it’s time for a change. Don’t you?
To your health!