Libertarian Opinion

Healthy Food is not More Expensive, Junk Food is Subsidized

In this chapter of that larger tragicomedy, lawmakers whose campaigns are underwritten by agribusinesses have used billions of taxpayer dollars to subsidize those agribusinesses’ specific commodities (corn, soybeans, wheat, etc.) that are the key ingredients of unhealthy food. Not surprisingly, the subsidies have manufactured a price inequality that helps junk food undersell nutritious-but-unsubsidized foodstuffs like fruits and vegetables. The end result is that recession-battered consumers are increasingly forced by economic circumstance to “choose” the lower-priced junk food that their taxes support. – David Sirota, at Alternet

I can’t believe Alternet published this story. This is progress. In the US, healthy food (such as what you find at Whole Foods) is ostensibly more expensive than just dropping in at McDonald’s and buying a Big Mac. Why? Because government pays to make it so. Why? Because the big corporations that sell the ingredients of junk food bribe Uncle Sam.

That’s why everyone is so fat. Because the US government has made it cheaper to eat crap. And, of course, people respond to these incentives.

Then why does healthy food appear to be so expensive relative to our take-home pay? Because wages have been stagnant for 40 years in real terms. Because the Federal Reserve has eroded the purchasing power of the dollar by 96% or more since it was established in 1913. That’s why.

Now you see how these things fit together and why it’s so important to wrench monopoly control of the currency from the US government and the central bankers.

By George Donnelly

I'm building a tribe of radical libertarians to voluntarize the world by 2064. Join me.

8 replies on “Healthy Food is not More Expensive, Junk Food is Subsidized”

“everyone is so fat” – everyone?! Are you, George? I’m sure not, nor is husband Paul Wakfer. Yes, a very great number of people in the US (and Canada where I am till end of October) are FAT, but not all. So better would be “That’s why so many are so fat.” :)

As for the low prices on many non-nutritious foods due to government price subsidies of the basic ingredients, this does not surprise me at all. All government intervention distorts the marketplace (hardly “free” in the sense of liberty) and it can easily be seen how it contributes to the distortion of the human body.

Actually though the price of nutritious food is not out of the reach of the vast majority of those in North America. One does not need to go to Whole Foods to get a good variety of reasonably priced produce and protein sources. I’ve been in WF many times and rarely have bought something there unless it was an exceptional price, which does happen on occasion. In central AZ, we find Sprouts, Sunflower Markets, LeeLee’s Oriental SuperMart and Food City to be terrific places for good prices and good food. Between the 4 of them they almost always outdo Fry’s, Albertson’s and Safeway but even these 3 have a wide selection of all the essentials for good nutrition. It’s paying attention to what makes up a nutritious and good tasting diet that is important and this is what a very many people do not do. It can be done and does take a bit more effort than simply grabbing whatever prepared meal is on special at the nearest grocery store or at a fast-food take-out window.

I am willing to spend time preparing fresh salads (one that lasts 2 days) and finding (often online) ideas for preparing non-meat protein meals a different way for a change. But the biggest thing cost-wise is that we eat very little meat and when we do it is a very small amount with lots of vegetables. That alone keeps costs down a lot. Legumes (beans and lentils) are varied and cheap, making for a vast number of tasty very low cost meals when combined with various sorts of vegetables.

For more on how we relate to food –

As for McDonald’s, from what I see in their ads it is possible to get a nutritious meal there – one of their many meal salads along with iced tea or juice would do it. And even one of their (or a competitor’s) hamburgers and fries if only once or twice a month wouldn’t be bad health-wise, if the rest of the meals are highly nutritious.

Regarding the Fed and the rest of government, including its legalized monopoly on currency – well, it’s pretty much all written in “Social Meta-Needs: A New Basis for Optimal Interaction”

Surely, Kitty, you realize that I don’t mean that as literally 100% of the population is overweight. Colloquially, that means “a lot of people” or “so many people.”

Yes, indeed, I am slightly overweight. Though my wife disagrees. :D

Actually, I find it hard to get eat a diet composed largely of fruits and vegetables at a reasonable price in Philadelphia. Here in Medellin, we can get bags and bags of high-quality fresh fruits and vegetables (most of it produced within 200 km or less of here) for $50 per week. There’s more selection of where to shop here, too. You can even get small vendors to bring it to your door. But the economic landscape here is radically different from what you find in Philadelphia. It’s more free here in that way.

Thanks for your comment.

This is a point I’ve been attempting to drive home with friends and family going on two years now. I’ve only met with marginal success, but some is better than none. I’ve convinced my parents of the ills of “junk food”, unfortunately they still think that a box of Triscuits isn’t what I’m talking about.

George, I knew you didn’t really mean “100% of the population is overweight”, and that’s why I asked the question. But exaggerating by saying “everyone” or “all” or “we” (plural pronouns are notoriously ill-used) when those words do not apply to what is being written/said contributes to distorted thinking by the writer/speaker and his/her readers/listeners. “Collectivism in Language: Its Effects on Valid Reasoning”

As for the availability of fresh fruits and vegetables at reasonable prices, unless a person lives somewhere with only convenience stores within a mile, and chain grocery stores are further than that, then s/he needs to drive, bike, walk further or arrange with others for shared rides. I find it difficult to believe though that much of Philadelphia has no major supermarkets – all of which to my knowledge have decent produce sections these days. Maybe not everything I might want would be available but I’m pretty sure that I could make plenty of nutritious low cost meals out of what is available in supermarkets in Philadelphia.
Got curious and web searched for some info on grocery chains in Philly. I remember Acme and Shop-Rite from my years living in NJ pre-1975 (I know, ancient history :)

Todd, a box of Triscuits is OK – if it’s consumed over several days as a minimum or by numerous people in a shorter time. My favorite “junk food” is Cheez-Its. (I like Triscuits too but haven’t had any in years.) However I portion out my allotment as part of my “dessert” into a specific small old soft margarine container – a 13.7 oz box goes for almost 2 weeks, and this is with Paul having a few now and then. Beware of eating out of the box! This is a sure way to consume more than is smart for getting/staying healthy.
Also, I haven’t looked at a Triscuit box in ages, but there’s nothing bad in Cheez-Its. It’s how much a person eats of them and also what is not consumed that would be far better.

Getting the message of good nutrition for good health across to some friends/relatives is difficult and can make for strained relationships – a lot like the way discussions do on how to improve societies… But if the parties respect your reasoned thinking and you are consistent by your own practices, those who matter will pay attention, ask meaningful questions and even make improvements. themselves.

It’s a colloquialism. It’s informal use of language. It has nothing to do with collectivization.

We often shopped at Shop-Rite. Also Costco. I’m simply saying that it is indeed expensive to purchase groceries that consist mainly of fresh fruits and vegetables. It costs a lot of money. Also, a lot of it comes from very far away. The reasonably-priced oranges at Costco, for example, tend to come from South Africa. They’re dry and produce little juice.

It’s the level of processing in things like Cheezits and Triscuits that makes me dislike them. There’s nothing fresh there. Also, lots of little chemicals are added for various reasons.

Triscuits: wheat, soybean and/or palm oil, salt

Cheezits: enriched flour, vegetable oil (canola, cottonseed, palm, sunflower and/or partially hydrogenated soybean oil with TBHQ for freshness), skim milk cheese (skim milk, whey protein, cheese cultures, salt, enzymes, annatto extract for color), contains two percent or less of milk, salt, paprika, yeast, paprika oleoresin for color, cheese cultures, soy lecithin.

These days, most soy that is not certified organic is likely GMO. I believe wheat is now suspect, as well. Canola oil – which is really a brand name for rapeseed oil – is not nutritious, and it “rapes” the land of nutrients and future growing capacity, hence the name. Cottonseed – not nutritious. Hydrogenated oils – purely toxic for the body; it’s easy to research this. TBHQ, no good. Anything whey/dairy not organic means it comes from factory-farmed, antibiotic-pumped, miserable and often unhealthy cows.

Unfortunately, I cannot concur there’s nothing “bad” in these snacks. I bet it’s pretty easy to make them at home, however.

I agree with George that we need not only to “wrench monopoly control of the currency from the US government and the central bankers” – but also….start growing our own damn food!

Am I right? Right? :)

Great points, Joann, thanks.

I think growing our own food is a bridge to a future where corporations are gone and we have accountable growers we can buy from. Once we have liberty, it may not be worth everyone’s time to be a farmer. I bet a lot more people would be farmers tho and unquestionably there is a huge need for it right now.

Eating healthy foods is one great way to keep your body from having enough vitamins and supplements that would prevent you from having any diseases.. In this regard, eating junk foods really brings no good in you so to those who are fond eating junk foods.. cut it out.

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