Farming, Obesity, and More

By request, I am posting my response to a thread on Facebook so it can be shared. It’s not comprehensive, and I encourage dialogue to continue here. That said, I’m about to be without any kind of internet access for over a week, so I will not be part of it. I’ll ask someone to moderate it, however, so comments can be seen. Those of you who’ve already commented on FB, please feel free to copy your comments here so they can be seen.

“I agree everyone needs to take responsibility for themselves. I teach this every single day. I do, however, think people need to be honestly informed so they can make reasonable decisions. Ideology and reality aren’t necessarily in opposition to one another. My ideology: tell me what’s in this food, and I’ll decide whether or not to eat it. Don’t decide for me by lying or omitting.

Many people can decide whether or not to eat HFCS or GMO crops, but they need to know it’s there to make an informed decision. Some people, especially those in urban areas and food deserts, often do not have a choice. The food on the shelves is limited, as is access to transportation. If, as in some areas of, say, Detroit, your only option is to purchase food at a gas station because it’s the only store within walking or bus distances, you get what they keep on the shelves. This isn’t ideology, it’s fact (and known and supported by facts from the USDA).

And yes, most obesity is caused by excess calorie intake. I totally agree. Some people just need to back away from the table. But, for many people in the US, that is a huge oversimplification. I work with urban and impoverished youth, for example. Many of them have little or no say in what they eat, and by the time they do, it’s too late. Our school lunches are filled with HFCS, which is directly linked to obesity and diabetes, because it processes through the liver (unlike other sugars). There are many factors in the obesity epidemic, and while it’s easy to say “stop eating Twinkies,” that isn’t giving the issues the weight it deserves.

And, I’d never pick on farmers. I’m an ardent supporter of local farms. We need farmers, and we lose farmland every single day. Once it’s gone, it’s not coming back. I do not support Monsanto, or most of their food practices. …When one company owns over 90% of the world’s seeds, it’s time to worry.

As a side note, we already produce far more than enough food to feed the world (and certainly our own country)–over twice as much per person in American than we need, with some other first-world countries doing the same. Well over half that is thrown out annually. The problem is not production, it’s distribution and politics (not just in our country, but in others–many times food is used as political pressure, especially in more corrupt third-world countries).

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3 responses to “Farming, Obesity, and More

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