Dear American Consumers

Haven’s Kitchen posted this article yesterday and I had to share it. I think I have shared a good amount about my views of the American food system and how broken it truly is. This guest writer does a great job outlining the root of the biggest food issues today.

The “western diet” is primarily processed food that is high in fat, salt and sugar- all of which are addictive and have altered our palates to crave more. If the current “health” fad is low carb, industrialized food companies change their marketing. If its low or no fat, it’s changed again. Has anyone ever noticed how several different types of gummy candy are marketed as a low fat food? It’s all a ploy by big food companies to trick you into thinking its healthy. It’s not. It’s all sugar.

The other way these big companies deceive consumers is with pricing. While working at Slow Food USA I stumbled upon an great article from the California Public Interest Research Group entitled “Apples or Twinkies: Could Farm Subsidy Cuts Actually Make Americans Healthier?” The argument the research group made is that government subsidies favor an industrialized food system- where corn is subsidized to make corn starch and corn syrup instead of a simple (not to mention edible) ear of corn. This has caused processed food costs to decline and the price of fruits and vegetables to increase.

This quote more or less sums it up:

According to CPIRG, since 1995 only $262 million in taxpayer support subsidized apples, which was the only significant federal subsidy for a fresh fruit or vegetable. Breaking it down, the report states that if instead of sending funds to farm subsidies, Americans were given a direct cut to spend on their own groceries, it would amount to $7.36 for each American to spend on junk food per year versus just $0.11 for apples.

As consumers, we have the power to change the food system by shifting what we demand to see at our local markets. Although a Twinkie may cost less now, how much will it cost you down the line in terms of your health and the costs associated with treatments for heart disease and diabetes? I know that that is an extreme but by demanding more from our food system we can alter the health system in this country down the line.

The point I am trying to make is that eating local, seasonal and sustainable food can affect you in more ways than you might think. It has the power to support your local economy, alter prices in favor of wholesome food and positively affect your health. It seems like a no brainer, right? Try it out for a week. Whenever you find yourself grabbing a bag of chips, a frozen meal or a yogurt, check out the food label for the the fat, salt and sugar contents. Trust me, it will shock you (the sugar in yogurt is absurd!) If you exchange those meals or snacks for real fruits and veggies for just a week, your palate will change. That frozen meal will taste so salty you have to stop eating it (at least that’s what happened to me). It may seem daunting (and expensive) but we have to demand change in our food system. If we demand this change, the prices will eventually be in our favor and an apple will be cheaper than a Twinkie.

After all, doesn’t an apple (maybe with a little almond butter) sound better than a Twinkie anyways?

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