Science Agenda: Fresh Fruit, Hold the Insulin; May 2012; Scientific American Magazine; by The Editors; 1 Page(s)
Some years ago two nutrition experts went grocery shopping. For a dollar, Adam Drewnowski and S. E. Specter could purchase 1,200 calories of potato chips or cookies or just 250 calories worth of carrots. It was merely one example of how an unhealthy diet is cheaper than a healthy one. This price difference did not spring into existence by force of any natural laws but largely because of antiquated agricultural policies. Public money is working at cross-purposes: backing an overabundance of unhealthful calories that are flooding our supermarkets and restaurants, while also battling obesity and the myriad illnesses that go with it. It is time to align our farm policies with our health policies.
In past years farm subsidies have been a third rail of American politics—never to be touched. But their price tag, both direct and indirect, has now brought them back into the debate and created an imperative for change. Conditions such as heart disease, diabetes and arthritis are strongly correlated with excess poundage and run up medical bills of nearly $150 billion every year. The government has poured billions of dollars into dietary campaigns, from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s new MyPlate recommendation (half of daily food consumption should be fruits and vegetables) to programs aimed at providing more produce in schools and in military cafeterias.