Wednesday, April 28, 2010

It's the Goverment, Stupid

Jamie Oliver finished up his "Food Revolution" last week with a shining revelation: federal government policy is a major cause -- if not the major cause -- of obesity in America. He's absolutely spot on.

In the final show, Jamie returns to Huntington after learning that the schools will introduce "processed food" Fridays to eat away at the mountain of culinary crap in storage. Once there, he learns that the schools have already placed huge orders of chicken nuggets, frozen pizza and other garbage for next year. Why? It's cheap. And why is it cheap? The government subsidizes it.

You can't completely blame the long-suffering school food chief, who looks decidedly uncomfortable in this last episode. Like the rest of America, I'm sure Huntington is struggling to make ends meet. She has to do what she has to do. Cheap food is almost a necessity.

But of course, it's artificially cheap because of government subsidies (i.e., your tax dollars) that encourage massive overproduction of corn and other products while providing not a penny to vegetable and fruit growers. It's insane if you think about it.

In the end, Jamie's show provided a powerful insight: tackling obesity and bad eating habits requires far more than a few cooking lessons. Solving this problem means sweeping changes in government policy that will hurt a lot of very, very powerful economic interests, specifically huge agribusinesses like Archer Daniels Midland and Cargill whose business models are built on feeding America crap. Think of it as the food equivalent of Goldman Sachs making a fortune by betting against America. In order for them to win, we have to lose.

Jamie did a great job. I can only hope that he doesn't give up and more shows follow.


  1. Here's an idea: People who avoid eating processed crap should get a federal tax deduction, because they're paying the actual cost of food, not being subsidized by the government.

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