Originally published August 19 2013
The government is spending billions of your hard-earned dollars to promote junk food like Twinkies
by Ethan A. Huff, staff writer
(NaturalNews) The average American supermarket has become little more than a hotbed of processed junk food, thanks to federal agriculture policies that for decades have used taxpayer dollars to subsidize the overproduction of junk food crops. Since 1995, in fact, the federal government has spent nearly $20 billion just on subsidies for corn- and soy-derived junk food ingredients like high-fructose corn syrup (HFCS) and soybean oil, an amount that is the junk food equivalent of purchasing 52 billion Twinkies and force-feeding them to the world.
Of the $300 billion in government agriculture subsidies given since 1995, less than one-quarter of one percent, or $689 million, has been allotted for the production of healthy fruits and vegetables. The rest, according to a new report by U.S. PIRG (Public Interest Research Groups), has been spent on growing corn, soy, wheat, and a handful of other commodity crops, the vast majority of which are used to manufacture processed food items that lead to heart disease, obesity, and other debilitating illnesses.
Entitled "Apples to Twinkies 2013," the U.S. PIRG report highlights a major disparity between what the government says and what it actually does. While Michelle Obama pushes for healthier food items at public schools, for instance, the administration she represents continues to pour billions of dollars into subsidies that make junk food artificially inexpensive. Healthy foods, meanwhile, generally remain more costly because of this unfair market manipulation, which in turn makes it difficult for families on tight budgets to eat healthy.
"At a time when America faces high obesity rates and tough federal budget choices, taxpayer dollars are funding the production of junk food ingredients," explains the new report. "With the money used to subsidize corn and soy junk food ingredients, the government could buy almost 52 billion Twinkies -- enough to circle the Earth 132 times when placed end to end, or meet the caloric needs of the entire U.S. population for 12 days."
There hasn't been a true free market in agriculture for nearly 100 years Sadly, many Americans remain ignorant of the fact that a significant chunk of the tax money they hand over to the IRS every year is used to produce health-destroying genetically modified organisms (GMOs), for instance, as well as other processed food cash crops. These subsidies encourage farmers to grow junk food crops rather than nutritious crops, and this market-altering practice has been going since the 1920s.
"Taxpayers spent $84.4 billion on corn production, $8.1 billion of which funded production of corn starch and sweeteners," adds the report. "Of the total domestic corn produced, 9.6 percent ended up in junk food and beverages as sweeteners or thickeners. Soy subsidies rank fifth on the list of subsidized crops, costing taxpayers $278 billion. Since 1995, soy oils have consumed approximately $11.1 billion in taxpayer subsidies."
Just imagine if all this tax money had been spent subsidizing the production of nutritious food crops like hemp, for instance, the seeds of which are high in protein and beneficial omega-3 fatty acids. Heirloom tomatoes, almonds, broccoli, chia, and about a million other "superfoods" would make better subsidy options than corn, soy, wheat and rice, and yet the federal government chooses the latter to thrust on you and your family's dinner plates at a discount.
"If [the government] subsidized fruit and vegetable farmers at the rate of corn and soy, or even close, there's a good chance we would be the fittest nation rather than one of the fattest," writes Elizabeth Renter for NaturalSociety.com, concerning the report.
You can read the full U.S. PIRG report, "Apples to Twinkies 2013," at the following link:
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