Sunday, November 4, 2007

The Twinkie Defense

Inevitably, when you start debating food politics, someone raises the Flag of Elitism and starts railing about, who are you, a middle class person, to tell an entire population of poor people how to eat? If all they can afford are Twinkies and Big Macs, at least let them eat in peace. Stop waving your bunches of organic carrots and kale at them because They Are Poor and that is their Culture and they can't afford good food.

I hate this line of logic because it ignores some basic questions, like for example: Isn't the current system -- in which poor people are expected to eat industrial foods that are killing them -- elitist? And, are Mountain Dew and Twinkies really part of anyone's cultural heritage? And, why is farm-raised food so expensive? Why is a giant bottle of Coca-Cola cheaper than a farm-grown tomato?

It's not a law of nature, after all. It costs a lot less to plant some carrot seeds than it does to turn corn into high fructose corn syrup and soybeans into hydrogenated oil. But because of the Farm Bill, which allots billions of dollars in subsidies to corn and soybean farmers, crappy food is cheaper than real food.

The Farm Bill is up for renewal this year, and although some provisions have been made, it's basically the same old nonsense. For example, in this bill, there will be a cap on the amount of subsidies each farmer can receive: no more than $250,000. I guess that's progress. The final vote is next week. Stay tuned for more info.

In the meantime, read Michael Pollan's Op-Ed piece in today's Times.

1 comment:

akiko said...

I'm highly enjoying your blog! One of the great surprise that I experienced when I came to the States was not-freshly baked bread/cake's used-by date looked like forever. It was a really scary moment.

Yeah, organic food is expensive but before buying Kellogg products people could spend money more wisely.

My country people tend to be really (or too) sensitive about mad cow disease and genetically-modified food and so on. It's the opposite stance from here. I guess open debate would be helpful to increase the awareness of healthy food.