Last week I was contacted by Nathan Proctor of CALPIRG (the California Public Interest Research Group) about their new video on farm subsidies and how they relate to obesity.
We’re launching a huge effort to educate and mobilize people about how these subsidies — which mostly go to corn, wheat and soy — make junk food cheaper and help fuel the health crisis of childhood obesity and diabetes. We’ve talked to over 340,000 people face-to-face across the country, but are hoping to get the message out to even more people online.
Our basic rap is that since 1995, the US has spent $245 billion (actually the figure just rose to $261) to subsidize “commodity” crops, which has the effect of making junk food cheaper, while the prices of veggies and other healthy unsubsidized foods goes up with inflation. Most this money goes to the biggest agribusinesses like Cargill and Monsanto.
It makes it harder for small farmers to compete, especially if they want to grow healthy food. It’s also fueling an epidemic of obesity as sodas and Twinkies and other super-processed food chock-full of corn-syrup and other subsidized ingredients end up cheaper and cheaper.
Right now, Congress is talking about taking on these subsidies, given the debt situation, so we’re trying to get the word out.