New Allies For Food Reform
"the current US food system is highly industrialized, focusing on the production of animal products and federally subsidized commodity crops, such as corn and soybeans. This has resulted in a highly processed, calorie-dense food supply, instead of one rich in a variety of fruits vegetables, and whole grains ... The poor quality diets supported by this system contributes to four of the six leading causes of death in the United States: heart disease, stroke, diabetes and some cancers."
-- then they're saying the right things on food. That's good! They don't need to devote lobbying dollars to the effort to be judged "serious." Indeed, I'd think food reformers would welcome the AMA's statement: It allows them to say that the country's leading doctor organization has officially found that our food system is oriented toward making us fatter, sicker and poorer and that reform is needed.
One of the issues I tackle in my article on the difference between health and health-care reform is the difficulty of expanding health-care reform to include things that would make us healthier but that don't happen in a hospital. One of those things is making it more affordable for low-income Americans to eat well.
In the movie Food Inc. -- which I'll have more to say about soon -- there's a segment in which a poor family (pictured above) goes through a fast food drive-through. The mother admits that she knows better. They shouldn't eat like this. Her husband, in fact, has diabetes, and they spend more than a hundred dollars a month to purchase his medications. But they have no choice. They can't afford anything else.
This gets to an important point about cheap food: It's not necessarily cheap. It's cheap now. But given the health costs associated with obesity and diabetes -- and given their stunning prevalence in low-income communities -- it's really a way of borrowing money from your future self. No one thinks about it that way, but for this family that bought fast food because it was affordable and now spends thousands of dollars out-of-pocket on diabetes medication, that's been the overall impact.
So if the AMA wants to help make that point, then great! For better or worse, they have the credibility to make it. People trust doctors. And you have to admit: there's something weird about a country where it's very common to say that every American should have guaranteed access to extremely expensive, cutting edge medical care but it's weird to say that every American should have guaranteed access to a variety of affordable, fresh, healthful foods.
Photo credit: Magnolia Pictures Photo.
June 19, 2009; 5:33 PM ET
Categories: Food , Health
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