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Food policy

March 11, 2010

Recently, I was in a Scottsbluff grocery store, and I got into a conversation with a stranger (no surprise).

This person was complaining that vitamins were taxed, because they were a healthy, edible item and should therefore qualify as nontaxable food.

I commented that yeah, some people have some strange ideas of what qualifies as “food”. Soda pop, for example.

I mentioned an ad I’d seen on TV here a few months ago, where a suburban mom taking groceries out of her car trunk implies that her family food budget will be broken by the imposition of a tax on soft drinks. I actually thought the ad was a spoof the first time I saw it. (Seriously? You consider soda to be a vital, nondiscretionary food item?)

The grocery store stranger agreed with the idea that soda was a “want” rather than a “need”. Then they started grousing about “big brother government” getting involved in our food systems.

Didn’t really think much about the comment (this area of the country definitely has an independent, libertarian streak) until I saw a chart a friend forwarded on Facebook (thanks, John):

The chart comes from a 2007 dissection of the Farm Bill by the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine. The data’s a little old, but it brings up an interesting (though perhaps dangerous-to-raise-in-cattle-country) point.

Government policy has a huge effect on how our food systems work, and ultimately on the choices we make, and our diets, health, and economy.

I wonder how many cattle ranchers here are libertarians who want government out of their lives. And I wonder how many of them would survive in business without “governmental interference” in their industry.

What would happen to the price of meat, food-supply safety, and the ranch-country economy, if the government quit regulating and subsidizing beef production?

I’m thinking it would not be a pretty picture.

A March 1 newspaper opinion poll asked “Have you ever been on welfare?” The majority of people responded in the negative. I suppose most people would define “welfare” as social welfare programs. But what about industrial/agricultural welfare?

Nebraska welfare recipient?

Text copyright 2010 by Katie Bradshaw; cattle image credit to timobalk at sxc.hu

2 Comments leave one →
  1. March 11, 2010 12:01 pm

    What a great mind you have!

  2. March 11, 2010 4:39 pm

    It’s like the guy at the town hall meeting I went to who wanted no part of any government health care plan yet got more than a little hostile when his VA benefits were brought up. When the congressman hosting the meeting challenged him on his point he bellowed out, ‘I EARNED THOSE!’ People just don’t think things through.

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