What would USDA’s MyPlate look like if meat and dairy lobbyists weren’t involved? If the health of the country was actually more important to them than making money and keeping government subsidies as they are?
Nutritionist Dr Bernard says:
The protein portion of the USDA’s MyPlate is unnecessary, because beans, whole grains, and vegetables are loaded with it. And it is a shame that MyPlate reserves a special place for dairy products, which are packed with fat and cholesterol and may increase the risk of health problems ranging from asthma to some types of cancer. There are many more healthful sources of calcium.
But for taxpayers and members of Congress, the new plate has a special significance. There’s a stark contrast between the USDA’s plate and federal food subsidies. While the USDA’s plate encourages fruit and vegetable consumption and advises Americans to limit high-fat products like meat and cheese, federal agriculture subsidies do exactly the opposite: They spend billions of dollars promoting production of high-fat, high-calorie food products.
Despite skyrocketing obesity and diabetes rates, more than 60 percent of agricultural subsidies in recent history have directly and indirectly supported meat and dairy production. In recent history, the federal government has spent about $16 billion a year on agricultural subsidies. Less than 1 percent has gone to fruits and vegetables.
These figures are especially galling when you realize that the taxpayer-funded food system is literally making us sick. More than 60 percent of the deaths in the United States are caused by heart disease, cancer, and other diet-related diseases. Approximately 68 percent of Americans are overweight or obese. In 2008, the direct medical costs associated with obesity added up to $147 billion.
It’s time for Congress to fix this problem and address our country’s epidemics of obesity and other health problems.