Could you eat for only one dollar per day?
For many living in poverty, this isn’t a hypothetical question. Unfortunately, our government’s food policies often discourage people strapped for cash from making healthy choices– a fact long known by the hungry and food policy experts alike.
In a recent experiment, two teachers in the San Francisco area tried eating just a dollar’s worth of food a day for one month. They found it nearly impossible to include any fruits or vegetables in their rice-and-beans diet. The couple discovered that junk food, which provides little more than empty calories, was far less expensive than more nutritious items.
Junk food is cheap thanks to government subsidies for crops like corn, wheat and rice. These products are often processed into ingredients like high fructose corn syrup, a key component of inexpensive snack foods.
Although the 2008 Farm Bill made some provisions for the distribution of fruits, vegetables and locally-produced foods, it also granted major subsidies to large farms for crops commonly processed into junk food. Fruits, veggies, and organic produce receive no aid, according to an article in the Christian Science Monitor.
This means farm practices that eschew pollution and synthetic pesticides may not be economically viable for farmers, and that more cash is required to buy a piece of fruit than a Twinkie. That’s too bad, since healthy food may be what a nation of overfed, undernourished Americans needs most.
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