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Sad Truth about Food Economics

The New York Times has an interesting article (free reg req.) about the economics of food sold in supermarkets.

It is important enough, that I’ll quote some of the key findings:

Drewnowski found that a dollar could buy 1,200 calories of cookies or potato chips but only 250 calories of carrots. Looking for something to wash down those chips, he discovered that his dollar bought 875 calories of soda but only 170 calories of orange juice.

Drewnowski concluded that the rules of the food game in America are organized in such a way that if you are eating on a budget, the most rational economic strategy is to eat badly — and get fat.

It starts to get interesting when the cause is investigated:

For the answer, you need look no farther than the farm bill.

Like most processed foods, the Twinkie is basically a clever arrangement of carbohydrates and fats teased out of corn, soybeans and wheat — three of the five commodity crops that the farm bill supports, to the tune of some $25 billion a year. (Rice and cotton are the others.)

And thanks to the close trade ties we in Australia have with the US, similar economics are at play in our local supermarkets. Brings to light the recent increase in the average Australian weight.

Sad, sad times.