Fast Food Nation: Food Fight

Kevin Glass

The collective rise of waistlines all across America has caused many people to start espousing their ideas on what to do about this problem. The hard truth of the matter is that Americans are fat and getting fatter. Sugary and fatty foods are of great availability to Americans and because of the ease of producing these processed foodstuffs, they are extremely cheap. Eating economically is at odds with eating healthfully.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not going to scold Americans and claim moral superiority. I’ve just returned home from Grand Union Family Market with a bag of peanut butter double-stuf Oreos. I must say, however, that the proposed solutions to potbellied problem seem rather ridiculous. Experts seem to be saying that if Americans don’t know what’s good for them and how to eat, then our nanny-like government will.

One of the more ludicrous responses, for example, has been the attempt to impose a tax on drive-thru fast food. Other solutions range from investing more government funds in physical education programs, banning certain kinds of foods and oils from school cafeterias, and creating National Walk-to-School month (an over-$500 million venture). The list goes on and on. If we just throw money at the obesity epidemic, it’ll go away, right?

A lot of outrage stems from the fact that unhealthy foods are so much cheaper than fruits and veggies, so questions are asked how low-income families could possibly eat healthily in a nation where it would cost $10 to prepare a nice salad but only $1 for a double cheeseburger at McDonald’s. Thus, we have an interesting situation where politicians and pundits have proposed ways to make fast food more expensive rather than making healthy food cheaper.

Interestingly enough, the United States Department of Agriculture has enacted protectionist policies in order to keep American farmers productive. In the next decade, the federal government will spend about $171 billion on direct farm subsidies. Unfair trade practices for lots of different kinds of food keep out cheap competitors. Consequently, this artificially inflates the prices of fresh-grown produce in the United States.

Protectionist agricultural policies have left Americans paying high prices for foods and low-income families unable to feed their kids healthy foods. While Americans’ waistlines expand, it becomes harder and harder to eat healthfully. Obviously, there cannot be one simple solution to the problem of rising obesity in America. Sedentary lifestyles are no doubt one of the largest contributions to the problem. Eating right is too expensive in America today, and clearly the Department of Agriculture is not doing the average American family any favors.