Three out of the top five "commodity" crops produced in the U.S. make up the main ingredients of a Twinkie (wheat, corn and soybeans).  Not surprisingly, these three commodity crops along with rice and cotton are heavily subsidized by the US government ($25 billion a year).  So let’s say I am conglomerate food manufacturer and I want the cheapest raw ingredients I can get my hands on to produce some funky product, like the Twinkie.  These are the exactly the types of ingredients I would start with.  They are cheap (the government subsidizes them) and they are plentiful (farmers grow more because they want the subsidy).  Not even Mexico can produce corn this cheaply.  American farmers are putting Mexican farmers out of business, artificially of course.

So you ask….what about the dozens of other fruits, vegetables and grains?  How are they being subsidized?  Well in short….they’re not.  And we as consumers spend more to purchase these crops.  We pay closer to what it actually costs to produce these foods.  As opposed to paying less at checkout and more at tax time. 

Of course, government subsidies are needed to help farmers.  I am not saying we should eliminate them.  There are bad years and small crops.  Farmers that supply our food chain should be able to weather bad years.  The money just needs to be divided up more.  Sure the five commodity crops would still get money, but so would smaller family farms that grow other varieties of produce.  It’s time that we as EATERS told our government what types of food we want our money spent on!  Vote with your dollars!   Check out this grist.org article on the 2007 Farm Bill.

read Michael Pollen’s article "You Are What You Grow" in the NYtimes

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