I was reading an article in the New York Times today that someone sent me, here which talks about the well-publicized "obesity epidemic" in this country. It approaches it in a much different way than what I had read and seen up till now. The gist of the article is that the obesity epidemic seems to coincide with a radical change in our country's agricultural policies. Between the 1930's and 1972, the government tried to smooth out food prices by offering farmers loans with their corn as collateral when the price of corn was below a set price. The Farmer could either hold onto his corn until the price went up, and then sell it and pay the loan back, or he could just give his corn to the government and then keep the money from the loan. The government kept any corn it got and stored it in its own granary, and would sell it when prices went up, often at a profit.

This was all done because, during the depression (and before) farmers would overproduce. If prices fell, farmers would try to grow more in order to keep the same income, which would in turn depress prices further.

In 1972, due to various factors, food prices began to rise to a point where people began to stage food protests. The Nixon administration then changed the rules to just straight farm subsidies, to avoid anything close to a food shortage ever again.

Now, relative to 1972, farmers produce about 500 calories more per person today, and we consume 300 of those each.

The most interesting assertion in the article is that portions are larger now because it is much cheaper and easier to just increase portion sizes, and use that as a competition point, than it is to compete on price. This of course is due to the ridiculous supply of food, which is a direct result in the rules changes in 1972.

Anyway, I haven't summarized anything in quite a while, so sue me. Read the article, you might just learn something.



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