children of the corn 57


With the debate now raging over health care reform, mostly around the current inadequate-to-our-real-needs-but-still-super-expensive legislation that is being considered by our dysfunctional Congress, I thought I would offer a quick aside that has yet to make it into the dialogue in any meaningful fashion but seems an obvious part of any common sense solution – lower health care costs by lowering health care demand.

I am talking about killing King Corn.

I typically don’t find the need to share much about the sort of challenges I faced growing up.  Among them was pretty harsh physical abuse by a step father from ages five to nine. The ordeal was ended by the fierce will of the mom who raised me and her triumph over the abuse she suffered as a child that led us there in the first place.

With that experience in mind, I can’t help but look at the above picture and wonder why this isn’t child abuse.  Reportedly, these kids suffer the same issues that other abused children do.  Low self-esteem, issues with authority, difficulty making friends.  In addition to the obvious medical issues these children will face for their entire lives, the emotional baggage they pick up along the way will make it impossible to make the changes that will literally save their life.  There also is the matter of addiction to food that takes a 200 pound teen to a 500 pound young adult, hardly surprising given the prevalence of addiction among abused children.

At what point is it our responsibility as a nation to look at the policies we support and the affect it has on our society?

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SRSGUZrOU_w&hl=en&fs=1&]

This one really is a no-brainer, too.  King Corn and the above movie (as well as Food Inc. and others) blows the lid off the entire insane situation and the drastic damage it is doing to our country.  It goes all the way back to the misguided and shortsighted actions of a single man with the power to destroy a way of life via idiotic policy decisions.

The cost is way more than just paying corn farmers to subsidize large food manufacturers to make toxic products that kill us so slowly all anyone can taste is the sweet.  It extends into the food supply beyond GIGANTIC SODAS and 50% percent more “free” candy (that nonetheless costs four times what a normal sized candy bar used to cost) and goes right into our primary protein production mechanisms.  Our cows and pigs are fatter and less nutritious than they were forty years ago, with a whopping 20% savings on meat in the bargain.  That’s almost enough to keep up with inflation!

It’s such a bargain that it included the destruction of the family farm and our rural ecosystems as a bonus.

What does this have to do with health care? The public health trends with regards to obesity are clear, not to mention dramatic and devastating, and not a single member of that illustrious body of legislators we can’t seem to get rid of is talking about it.  Especially not in a way that would likely lead to massive public support if the solution was properly presented.  They certainly don’t appear to be looking at how our existing systems can be modified to deliver better returns without spending a single additional dollar.  Maybe those racist centrists are talking about cost containment, but no one who really matters seems to care about lowering long-term costs if they can score political victory.

A real solution is actually quite simple: Stop corn subsidies.  Start organic subsidies.

Limit the size of companies that are eligible for subsidies based on the average size of the typical family farm in a given region.  Give added incentives to farmers who locate within 100 miles of a major metro area.  Modify rural planning codes to reflect the need for locally-grown vegetables.  This will have an immediate impact on how our food is produced and what we ultimately put in our bodies.  It would also add well-paying, labor intensive jobs to the surrounding areas, even if it does kill a couple of large agribusiness conglomerates that are poisoning our food supply in the process.  Lots of empty tract houses, too, that could be turned back into farmland or inhabited by the hearty folks who work the fields.

Changing what we eat would almost immediately lead to lower overall health care costs – both short and long term – as well as a dramatic increase in the quality of life for all Americans.  That whole Pursuit of Happiness thing is a lot easier when you aren’t lugging around an extra hundred pounds and can enjoy good food without killing yourself.

IT'S EASY TO SHARE

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditmail

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

57 thoughts on “children of the corn

  • matyra

    Agreed. From a practical standpoint, how could one integrate food subsidies/distribution/guidelines into healthcare reform?

    It would mean going up against Kraft and pals, but also be seen as intrusive on people’s “freedom”–at least that’s how I think it would be framed. But seriously, isn’t it time to work a little on prevention of disease and not just treatment? Also, the fact that Americans are majority-overweight should have some bearing on the debate.

    • Jason Everett Miller

      From a practical standpoint, as far as I can tell, this issue is 100-percent under the control of the executive branch. A single agriculture secretary under Nixon screwed it up, so it stands to reason that another ag sec could straighten it out.

      As far as the entrenched interests, this could be one of those things where the CEO of Kraft wakes up one morning and find that the cost of their number on raw material – commodity corn fillers and sweeteners – has gone through the roof. All of a sudden, they have to learn how to make real food again or perhaps rethink their business model entirely.

      Eventually, America will get back to a diet that is fresher and more perishable which will require food companies to evolve or go out of business, all those people being reabsorbed into the work force on new organic farms or cooperative distribution centers or at revitalized grocery stores that smell like actual food instead of a musty warehouse.

      That said, I agree that it is unlikely that any politician, least of all our über-pragmatic president, will pick up this banner coming into a midterm election year.

      • kgb999

        I think this is a far more rational take than the “child abuse” angle. The solution here isn’t to put a mom in jail for having an obese child – or saying that obesity = bad parent.

        The situation is based on systemic bad policy. From the ones you mention to the ones that program kids to pester their moms by marketing the worst foods to the least sophisticated consumers – children. How many parents buy that crap-cereal or whatever because they don’t want a screaming match over “superman cereal” in middle of aisle 8?

        • Jason Everett Miller

          I don’t believe the punishment should be jail, but the understanding should be that these parents failed and have been engaged in abusive practices.

          I don’t care what the marketers do. That is their job. It is a parents job to parent and absent some sort of societal guilt or specific legislation, most people won’t change their behavior with regards to food. It is pathological now. The parents may be victims as well, to a certain extent, because they were probably raised in an environment that was abusive in similar ways. They didn’t learn the healthy habits and society reinforced those ideas via the practices it condoned, but no one should be absolved of their responsibility in this.

          Especially since selling the solution to the American people is a total personal responsibility pitch.

          That said, I think the answer is fixing the food system as a whole through an unexpected and under-the-radar move that changes the game in one fell swoop before the special interests know what hit them. We need stop amplifying this pathology via obvious public policy failures.

          • kgb999

            Well, I don’t see any stealth moves that put people out of work for later re-absorption into the economy as organic farmers and co-op workers happening any time soon. So I think you are right about politicians refusing to do something as radical as you propose.

            I suppose it’s a parent’s job to be a nutritionist. To understand that what’s readily sold and marketed to kids in this box is 1000x worse than what’s in this other box on the same shelf that nobody ever mentions on TV. I’m not sure where this information seeps into their heads from though. I mean they aren’t supposed to market stuff that is a health risk, right? The same media outlets heavily invested in marketing shit to 6 year old kids sure aren’t going to tell them.

            At some stage we’ve got to acknowledge the likely and all too normal outcome to a given set of inputs. Parents should be assisted where possible. Like by not allowing practices that blatantly encourage a situation of adverse health for their children.

            We regulate the marketing of all sorts of products – both in the specific (hard liquor is relegated to subways and web ads) and in the general (tobacco can’t advertise AT ALL if the campaign appears to be aimed at kids). Sure it’s a marketing person’s job to get kids screaming in aisle 8 for shit that will kill them, just like it was the banker’s job to over leverage and create laughable financial vehicles to maximize their gains. It’s that way because of the system we’ve created.

            Establishing minimum nutrition standards for products that are specifically marketed to children would go a long way to help kids like the ones you highlight. If standards are set that encourage products to move away from the current formulations, a desire to reach customers should cause increase in the use of additional ingredients. At the same time it seems difficult to send a more clear message than saying “the stuff you sell is so crappy, you can’t market it to non-adults”. I don’t see why this wouldn’t be a very effective “stealth move” that helps take steps in the direction of a more healthy national food model and could have a real impact at the agricultural level. Would it do what you picture – not even close. Would it eliminate some psychological factors that lead kids into unhealthy eating habits that can cause them to become “abused” – I have no doubt.

            As an adult I like to buy a box of “Fruity Pebbles” every so often … but it does make me wonder: would kids would feel less gypped by getting a healthier option were THAT were the box with the Flintstones on it? We’ve come a long way from the days of Popeye’s spinach.

          • kgb999

            OK, I don’t usually correct – but that last bit didn’t work out at all. Try This:

            “but it does make me wonder: would kids feel less gypped by getting a healthier option were THAT the box with the Flintstones on it?”

            🙂

          • Jason Everett Miller

            Correction or not, these are all great ideas that MUST be part of the conversation but currently are not.

            This blog was meant to be less an explanation of our current dysfunction, which is obvious to anyone with a brain, but instead to prompt realistic ideas that we may be able to implement the solutions with a minimum of resistance.

            If we can design a program that encourages farming entrepreneurs by accounting for their challenges in our policies, there is a very real possibility of reforming the system by changing the nature of the current special interests.

          • Jason Everett Miller

            PS: As to parents being nutritionist, it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to read a label and realize that all those chemicals can’t be good for you. It wasn’t always this way. People used to actually cook their own meals!

            If we stopped buying products with corn-based fillers and sweeteners and preservatives (or if those items became too costly to use) then companies would stop making those items. Further, if people started making their dishes instead of buying everything preprocessed then the grocery stores would dedicate that all important shelf space to those sort of items.

            Pretty soon, most stores will start looking like Whole Foods, which isn’t really that much more expensive than “normal” supermarkets (despite the idea that it is) and is a million times better from a nutritional standpoint.

  • destor23

    Absolutely something has to be done here. High Fructose Corn Syrup is not “nutritionally the same as sugar” no matter what the propaganda says.

    We have to take the additives and over-processing out of the equation here, it’s killing us.

    • matyra

      Besides, Coke with sugar (Mexican Coke is regularly sold here in NM) tastes miles better than Coke with high fructose corn syrup. I believe that the only thing different is the sugar type.

          • Jason Everett Miller

            Ditto. Since we started making our own sweet stuff with natural and organic ingredients though or buying the same at Whole Foods? Yummo! (That last was a nod to my better half….)

      • kenga

        Have you heard the hypothesis/conspiracy theory/story, that New Coke was not a product flop, but a Marketing (and Product Alteration) strategy of gigantic success?
        Release New Coke, phase out Coke. Market New Coke, change Coke recipe to replace cane sugar with HF corn syrup. Announce return of “Coke Classic” to much fanfare, phase out New Coke.
        Walla!

        • Jason Everett Miller

          I had not heard that, but if that was the underlying strategy, then it was a brilliant maneuver.

          I don’t blame Coke using corn. I blame us for keeping such a subsidy system in place long after all the available evidence has shown how harmful these crops are to our food supply. Further, it doesn’t even appear as if farmers like growing stuff this way either.

          Who exactly is this policy aimed at helping again? Oh yeah, all the family farmers who have been driven out of business along the way.

          • kenga

            I think the biggest beneficiaries are multi-nationals corporations such as Archer-Daniels Midland, Monsanto, Bunge, Cargill, and their competitors.
            It’s less surprising in that light to find that Congress is heavily lobbied(and effectively) to continue the subisdies.

            If you haven’t run across it before, I highly recommend Merchants of Grain. It’s out of date, having been first published in the mid-70’s, but has the virtue of chronicling the first several thousand years of the business quite well, and reaches into the multi-national era which we’re still in.
            I forget the author, but I know you can get it on Amazon, or ID it online and check your local library.

          • Jason Everett Miller

            Agreed. We The People are not benefiting from our current farming and food production policies.

    • Jason Everett Miller

      Not to mention killing the ability of the land to actually provide sustenance without massive petrochemical inputs by way of fertilizers and pesticides.

      It wasn’t always like this. We should be able to get back to a simpler, more sustainable food policy in this country with the right policies and a little grassroots movement, which we are already starting to see in many metro areas.

    • Jason Everett Miller

      Great cartoon. That is exactly it. Food that used to be nutritious is almost extinct in North America.

      I am afraid we will reach a point that we can’t go back to the way it was because the ecosystem will no longer support agriculture that is more directly tied to the land and seasons.

  • OldenGoldenDecoy

    I foresee this as the base starting point for the true challenge . . .

    A change in the cultural attitude.

    And if folks here have yet to notice — I posted the following Cafe blog that has a very enlightening presentation from someone who really knows first hand about the health effects of “…fat asses and arteries…” Note: That’s not my way of framing the issue.

    CDC: The Lead Agency in the Fight Against Obesity and Related Health Problems?

    The discussion underscores the importance of engaging the young and the parents of the young, not through legislative actions. As I say over at my post, You can’t legislate obesity away as if legislation is some kind of magic bullet. Especially… in light of the fact that legislation against the huge lobby will undoubtedly be even more contentious than the ongoing fight over this current health care reform.

    Now hear me clearly. I am not against legislation that would help reduce the availability of products that are “known” to be unhealthy by statistical and proven research. Take tobacco products as an example. Through well defined legislation making unhealthy products “un-cool” to the young has proven to be highly effective in changing the cultural dynamic. And YES, in addition to taxing the product to cause higher retail costs. But a total attempt to out-law that product would have invariably been counter-productive in light of the fight it would have entailed.

    This is a pressing issue that does go hand-in-hand with the ongoing battle, but the issue of the effects of obesity related to poor health must be handled through an agency that is properly and thoroughly funded to accomplish the task.

    And I purport that within the current ongoing legislative process within the current mark-up of this health care reform act there are regulations and triggers that are being written to delegate the directions needed to the proper agencies.

    Thanks for letting me chime in . . .

    ~OGD~

    • Jason Everett Miller

      Yo, Duck, thanks for dropping by but not dropping by. :O)

      Loved this comment. I agree one hundred percent. Those provisions are in the existing legislation, I simply think they fall short. I am actually quite optimistic, despite my pessimism for this particular issue, with regards to how the debate is going.

      I suspect we are likely to reach a bipartisan agreement on the broad strokes, despite the apparent naughtiness of that word.

  • CVille Dem

    It took all my courage to click on this blog, because the title is the same (as you no doubt know) of an extremely scary horror story, and I don’t like horror stories because they scare me. So your blog is not about THAT horror story, but a far more important one.

    Thanks for posting this.

    A few years ago in France they saw that they were starting to have an obesity problem in young kids — what did they do? They put their universal health system to work at evaluating why, and what did they find? The common denominator was sweet soft drinks (flavored with corn syrup BTW). So what did they do about it?

    Every school in France had their soft-drink machines hauled away, and replaced with bottled water. Physical Education was increased. The obesity problem was improved, if not completely solved.

    Has anyone seen the ads complaining about taxing sugared drinks, as though it is a communist plot against the american way? What is the American Way? A Double-Wide that you can ride in a grocery store because you are too obese to walk the isles?

    OK, I’ll stop. Jason, this is an enormously complicated issue, and I appreciate your bringing it up. But until we have a country-wide, universal health care system we cannot even pretend to address these universal concerns. We can’t do it unless we make the commitment to make a public health system a part of our ethos.

    • Jason Everett Miller

      Thanks so much for the considered response.

      I agree completely except for the idea that this isn’t part and parcel of creating a sustainable health care environment. It is simply impossoble to take what is likely the number one cause of rising health care cost out of the equation of health care reform.

      This is as important as health insurance reform, in my estimation, if the end goal is a sustainable system that covers every American at a reasonable cost per person.

      • CVille Dem

        If this isn’t a part of our “sustainable health care involvement” what is? As your photos show, these are young kids, who by their very size are likely to develop diabetes, high blood pressure, heart problems, fertility issues, and compromised pulmonary systems; to just pull a few possibilities out of my head.

        This is PUBLIC HEALTH! Unless there is a “big picture” no one can even begin to work on problem-solving. Maybe our country is just too big and too diverse, but a wise person could divide it into regions for the purpose of problem-solving.

        • TJ

          Not to go off-topic, but they will also be drawing a disability check.

          And maybe that should be part of the dialogue: how much is being paid in disability for conditions that might be positively impacted by a universal public health policy?

          • CVille Dem

            That is actually NOT off-topic. I see people every day who are so immense that they are brought in by vans; they gave up on walking years ago; they ride through grocery stores on store-provided carts.

            It is not a pleasant life, and it should not be a life that we leave to our children and grandchildren.

            Actually very ON TOPIC, in my humble opinion!

          • OldenGoldenDecoy

            Hey Hey … I hear ya’ . . .

            You’ve nailed the most important part of the issue.

            This is PUBLIC HEALTH! Unless there is a “big picture” no one can even begin to work on problem-solving.

            YES! Without a concerted organizational effort, directed by the proper agency/agencies to address and educate individuals and bring people together at the regional and local levels then we would be spinning our wheels, so to speak.

            I hope you didn’t overlook my post up thread that deals with this same situation you’ve outlined.

            To me, it all boils down to not so much where we are at, but how we wish to get to where we need to go.

            Your input is spot on!

            Thank you.

            ~OGD~

        • Jason Everett Miller

          The comment: “But until we have a country-wide, universal health care system we cannot even pretend to address these universal concerns….” seemed to disconnect food reform from health care reform while I think they are intertwined in a deadly, co-dependent embrace.

          Perhaps I misunderstood your main point, but I don’t think we can afford to do one without the other unless we want to fail miserably at both.

  • Cindy Etal

    Outstanding blog, Jason.

    One of the problems we face as a nation is collective denial. It is very hard to hammer cracks in that. But it is happening — probably too slowly to offset the epidemic of obesity-related illnesses, but some people are changing what they eat. There is an awareness, at least, that there are consequences associated with what we put in our bodies.

    This slow change is coming from at least two directions, as best I can tell: 1) Realization of the consequences of poor diet and 2) The heightened discussion of obesity as a result of proposed health insurance/care reform legislation.

    Unfortunately, the change you and every sane person seeks will likely be driven by market forces. The shift will occur as more and more people make the connection between food and health.

    On the bright side, community gardens are springing up and Earth Boxes are taking off. Grocery stores have organic food/produce sections. Natural/organic food stores are springing up. Change is afoot, but like climate change, it likely won’t happen fast enough to avert disaster.

    And, of course, the better educated and/or more affluent among us will make the commitment to live healthier lifestyles first. That’s already happening. It’s the less educated, poorer people who need the most help and direction. There are some fledgling efforts around the country to help them come around, but it’s very lopsided as it is.

    There was an NPR piece recently with a top chef who was challenged to prepare a meal for a family of four using all fresh ingredients for under $10.00. He succeeded. But who listens to NPR? Mostly well-educated and/or affluent people. There was also a piece about obesity this morning. Same audience.

    It’s a good topic that won’t go away anytime soon.

    Thanks, Jason!

    • Jason Everett Miller

      All great points, cindy, and I agree that the trends seem to be slowly moving in the right direction.

      Too slowly, in my opinion, so I think it will take direct government intervention before it is too late. I am sure not market forces, in this particular instance, will be enough to change what has become a dance of death between corporate special interests and generations of food addicted fatties looking for their next high-calories fix.

      I know that “fatties” is not really politically correct, but there are already movements to make being fat akin to being disabled or an ethnic minority. We have go to stop that shit in its tracks or the changes you described as beginning to take place will be stopped dead in thier tracks.

      • Cindy Etal

        I have BBC World News from my PBS affiliate on while I’m getting ready in the mornings. The program immediately following is called A Place of Our Own and caters to parents of young children. I usually turn the idiot box off after BBC, but the topic for the entire 30 minutes today was obesity and diabetes and raising public awareness.

        They had a panel including a pediatrician, an African American grandmother who has a central role in raising her grandkids (she also has diabetes and is concerned about her grandchildren), a childcare director, and several parents of young children.

        They had an informative discussion that included specifics like how much juice a child should drink a day (4 oz.), and how much milk (3 glasses, the third being lowfat), and that the rest of their fluid intake should be H2O.

        The discussion also centered around food and how to make fresh food appealing to kids. In addition, they shared easy ways to get the whole family moving. For example, if everyone’s in front of the idiot box, get up and dance with the kids during commercials, and take the whole family for a walk after dinner.

        I’m not sure, but I think PBS kids’ programming follows this program. Hopefully, parents and grandparents are tuning in. At least they’re moving in the right direction! (I had to include the exclamation point. My optimism is tanking right now. Sliding into a funk — poll numbers, intractable politicians, lies, corruption, etc.)

        CM

        • Jason Everett Miller

          We can be optimistic and realistic at the same time! :O)

          Want some cause for cheer? It is going to change whether the Powers That Be want it to change or not. Cheap oil is coming to end. That will mean the end of cheap corn and cheaply produced food shipped across the country. Which will mean the end of the current trends.

          I am the sort who likes to get started sooner rather than later and am a fan of turning trickles of interest into floods of action.

          As to your other points, I agree that changing these habits are really just a matter of going back to a simpler time when we actually cooked our food and sat down to dinner together. My mom raised three kids on her own and had a pretty high-stress career as a paralegal in a large law firm, yet she made dinner for us every night, from scratch, and we would eat together.

          I still think they are full of shit about milk. Milk is only nutritionally sound for baby cows in those quantities. Not to mention that most milk is absolutely teeming with hormones and antibiotics and other nasty stuff. I would let them have more 100% fruit juice and water before letting them milk, though a little on their cereal is fine.

          We just get grass-fed milk that is organic and free from shit. It costs a little bit more, but is totally worth it in terms of taste and safety. It’s the sort of milk that the milkman used to bring right to your house.

  • TJ

    Random thought – the nudge

    Since a govt agency creates the “food pyramid” and distributes food stamps to low income families, why not combine the two? X% of monthly food stamps could be color coded to be used only for breads and grains, Y% for fresh fruits and veggies, Z% for milk and dairy. Since we already bar tobacco and alcohol from food stamp purchases, it shouldn’t be impossible to bar “shit in a shinny box”.

    I can already hear the charges of socialism/communism yada yada. But you know, if you take taxpayer dollars, there’s some strings attached.

    • CVille Dem

      You communist, socialist, er…sensible person! What you suggest should not even be open to debate — it is obvious — so why isn’t it in place? Who is donating to Congress from the relevant lobbying firms?

      As always, that is the answer. Follow the money

    • Orlando

      I think there are a couple of problems with your idea. First, health food costs more, and the monthly allotment of food stamps isn’t going to feed a family til the end of the month.

      Second, I think incentives and education work better than conditions.

      I live in a mid-size Midwestern city, surrounded by farms. We’ve always had a farmer’s market and it’s always packed on Saturday mornings, all year round. But more than that, more and more people are bringing their own bags to the market, and to the grocery store. People are starting to plant small vegetable gardens and to maintain compost piles. More people are talking about buying local and buying organic, because it’s better for their health and better for the planet, and it’s better for their bottom line as well–the more they can grow themselves, the less they have to spend at the store. It’s an encouraging trend.

      • TJ

        Does your farmers market take food stamps?

        I love the idea of incentives and education. I’m also quite encouraged that people are becoming more aware and are trying harder. I’ve also paid attention at the check-out line. When you see a basket filled with Pop-Tarts, potato chips and pizza, I’m laying 8 to 5 that that customer is paying with food stamps.

          • LavenderLightning

            WIC isn’t the same as food stamps. WIC is the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children – that’s mothers and children up to age 5. Nobody else.

          • Jason Everett Miller

            All the Farmer’s Markets in DC take WIC and food stamps, as does Whole Foods, which is not substantially more expensive than other stores and features products that are pretty much all free of corn and corn byproducts. Even the Farmer’s Market is about the same cost as “normal” stores when it comes to purchasing fresh fruits and vegetables.

            The problem is no one grocery chain, even if people would shop there, can service an entire country. Since consumers are pretty much stuck with what is on the shelves, it becomes government’s responsibility to ensure our food policies don’t create havoc with our health care costs.

            The problem is so big and I suspect that is why no one is talking about it. Politicians don’t want to believe that such a simple solution exists because it will totally change the way our food production and distribution system is set up as well as piss off their corporate benefactors.

            Food, like health, is big business now. We were much better off, I think, when both were mostly small businesses.

          • Orlando

            I think you’re right about politicians thinking that no simple solution exists. And if you think the health insurance industry is powerful, wait until the big farm and food lobbies get wind of any plan to reform our food supply.

            I’m not against reform. But I think a cheaper and more effective road is to continue to encourage people to buy locally grown fresh food. I also think pop machines should be banned from schools.

          • Jason Everett Miller

            I think we need to stop being so afraid of lobbyists for big corporations and start doing a little lobbying of our own via the primaries. Incumbents start losing their jobs and all kinds of great stuff becomes possible.

            I think the problem is too big to allow natural selection and changing personal decisions drive the pace of reform.

    • Jason Everett Miller

      Great point. We can certainly use existing programs like that to encourage the sorts of behaviors we want to see.

      It would also change the nature of what is on the shelves. It is less about the food industry as it is about what the stores will be willing to stock. If their customers can only buy certain things with their assistance checks then that is what they put on the shelf instead of Twinkies and Pepsi.

      At any rate, we can no longer afford to dismiss this problem and will have to implement system-wide changes to address it.

  • stillidealistic

    Very good post, Jason…Another thing that could be done is to slap a federal tax on all foods that contain high fructose corn syrup and trans fats (not just soda) and perhaps even one on fast foods that don’t meet heart healthy standards, with that money to go into the health care kitty…no different than the taxes on cigarettes. It might change some behavior, but even if it didn’t, the money would go to pay health care costs, so it would help some.

    • Jason Everett Miller

      Thanks, stilli.

      I am afraid that sort of tax would never get past moderate democrats or republicans and would be regressive besides. Especially considering that it was a government policy that created the problem in the first place!

      I say go straight to the source – kill King Corn, the maniacal creation of Earl Butts.

      • TJ

        Your campaign to kill King Corn could have other tangential benefits, like ending the sham of corn based ethanol and reducing the acreage devoted to monoculture farming.

        BTW, did you actually have to mention his name? I knew who you were talking about up thread, but now I’m going to have that asshat rolling around my consciousness for the rest of the day.

      • matyra

        Besides, taxing a product that you subsidize seems a bit high on the weirdness factor. Of course corn in general is subsidized–not high fructose corn syrup. But, as you say, a simpler way is to reduce or eliminate the subsidy to begin with.

  • Ickyma

    A good topic.
    I’ve considered the Child Abuse angle myself along the way… I don’t think it’d be a good idea to take parents away from their children by putting them in jail… That would achieve more harm than good.

    But it does seem like child abuse to me… and some form of punishment seems in order.

    Kinda like seat belts in cars… If the child (or adult) isn’t strapped in, there can be a fine. See? This kind of ‘punishment’ system is already in effect and used for similar reasons: To protect us from ourselves, basically.

    Any parent who allows their child to become obese is jeopardizing the health and life of that child. How can that “OK”? How can that not be some form of abuse?

    Same goes for parents who smoke around their kids… (BTW, I have 2 kids and they ain’t fat)…but I digress.

    Something needs to be done. Legislation and new FDA Rules are part of it… A high profile, Gov’t sponsored, “Public Education” program which includes grade school students on up AND has a lot of TeeVee time/Radio time, would be part of it… but the Gov’t can’t be expected to solve all our problems.

    The best thing we can do is force the necessary nutritional changes our society needs through the power of our wallet! We must put our money where our mouth is. Almost literally, huh?

    As we become more educated on the serious nature of this problem… and we learn how to eat right… we can and will purchase more healthy foods, and this will force the food producers to adapt to our demands if they wish to sell their product.

    A huge benefit to all of this will be the vastly improved health (and health care SAVINGS) of our citizenry.