Michael Pollan, author of The Omnivore’s Dilemma, has an article in the NYT today about the relationship between the farm bill and the production of cheap, unhealthy food. From the NYT:
Compared with a bunch of carrots, a package of Twinkies, to take one iconic processed foodlike substance as an example, is a highly complicated, high-tech piece of manufacture, involving no fewer than 39 ingredients, many themselves elaborately manufactured, as well as the packaging and a hefty marketing budget. So how can the supermarket possibly sell a pair of these synthetic cream-filled pseudocakes for less than a bunch of roots?
For the answer, you need look no farther than the farm bill. This resolutely unglamorous and head-hurtingly complicated piece of legislation, which comes around roughly every five years and is about to do so again, sets the rules for the American food system — indeed, to a considerable extent, for the world’s food system. Among other things, it determines which crops will be subsidized and which will not, and in the case of the carrot and the Twinkie, the farm bill as currently written offers a lot more support to the cake than to the root.
This is one of those absurdly well-written articles that makes you want to go read a book and become much more intelligent than you currently are. Then, with your massive intellect, you will reform the food system and solve the childhood obesity epidemic. Sadly, you will probably just go eat your cheap Twinkie and cry. Or is that just us? —MEGHANN MARCO