The Politics of Funding Healthy Food
According to Heather Rogers writing in The American Prospect (July-Aug 2010):
In addition to the standard instability — bad weather, pests, disease and the vagaries of the market — that all farmers endure, holistic and organic growers face great but often overlooked economic hardship. They must shoulder far higher production costs than their conventional counterparts when it comes to everything from laborers to land because taking care of natural systems is more labor intensive than industrial agriculture, which engineers its way to productivity.
The US Department of Agriculture (USDA) showers billions on industrial agriculture. Growers who go the chemical, mechanized route have ready access to reasonable loans, direct subsidy payments to get through tough years, and crop insurance, plus robust research, marketing and distribution sources. Currently organic gets just 2 percent of all USDA research funds; the other 98 percent goes to advancing industrial methods.”
This farm funding inequity results in higher costs for healthy food. This chart was originally created by the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (http://www.pcrm.org) in 2007 and illustrates why a Big Mac costs more than a healthy salad. The government’s guidelines for keeping Americans on a healthy diet are clearly a case of “do what I say, not what I do.”