November 17, 2014

AND THE CHEAPEST AND MOST PLENTIFUL:

Less Food Policy, Not More (Richard Williams Nov. 17, 2014, US News)

The United States has created supermarkets full of the widest variety of food that has ever been available to any country. But for some, this achievement is seen as creating more problems than it solves. One suggestion, the subject of a recent Washington Post piece, suggests that we need a national food policy. Those that suggest that we need additional government programs and initiatives focused on healthy eating should consider the programs the government already has in place and the results - or lack of results - they've produced. [...]

One of the big problems in our current system is that we both subsidize and tax specific foods, sometimes taxing and subsidizing the same food, like sugar and corn used to create high fructose corn syrup. Inevitably, much of this is misguided, as are most of our policies that target individual foods or macronutrients.

As the research grows, the government's recommendations change. In the past, we have warned people about nuts, and then said they were miracle foods. We pronounced animal fats bad, and that got us trans fatty acids. Eggs were dangerous, but now they're good for you. Dietary cholesterol needed to be avoided, and then it didn't. Too much total fat was bad for you, but then some fats were good.

We could avoid all of these nutrition missteps if, for one thing, we stop subsidizing, taxing or targeting individual foods. The science will change, or we will come to understand that whatever is substituted will be just as bad or worse for you. We are either subsidizing farmers or we are taxing foods, which is one of the most regressive taxes on the poor that we have. Macronutrients seem to have something of the same problem.

Posted by at November 17, 2014 4:54 PM
  

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