7.14.2008

Petrolium, Agribusiness and Health Care Costs

In a fascinating post by Ann Marie, one of her readers, "Craig" makes a very astute and somewhat disturbing comment that really brought it home for me:

"Our politicians fake their sympathy for the cost of health care, “food” and
the price of gas, yet over 70% of all the costs of health care are related to
industrial food sources, regulations and restrictions have forced local farmers
out of business and dried up support for them in favor of industrial
agricultural companies (same ones mentioned above, who now have the power and
money to lobby for anything that they want), and 50% of the gasoline
used in this country is used for fertilizing, growing and transporting
industrial food
(what’s wrong with locally grown food?).

Wow! That last point is particulary disturbing for me. It makes me realize that striving to purchase local, organic food isn't some elitist, food snobby thing to do. It seems like the most socially responsible way to vote with our dollars and begin a grass-roots revolution that will truly begin to solve our nation's health care crisis and our world's energy crisis. Just think! I could go on and on, but I will save that for another rant!!!

5 comments:

Alana said...

It might theoretically not be a "food snobby" thing to do, but it is a privilege only those who can afford it get to participate in.

In poor neighborhoods, people who don't have access to a car often also therefore don't have access to fresh vegetables of ANY sort.

Carrie T said...

A great reminder, Alana. I often take for granted what incredible choices and infrastructure we have here in Portland.

Fortunately, in Portland, it seems as though all or most of the farmer's markets are highly accessable by bus or light rail train from all kinds of socioeconomic neighborhoods.

For instance, 3 days a week the Portland Farmer's Market is in full swing, right in the midst of a very ecclectic urban area.

There are others that occur all around the metro area so that even those who are carless have access to fresh food.

Additionally, nearly every farmer I know of at these markets (and I've become familiar with many of them over the years, having worked at a farm) accepts WIC vouchers, which enable folks to purchase lots of fresh, organic vegetables at no cost to them. Many of the markets and farms also accept food stamps! That is very encouraging to see!

Perhaps Portland is rather progressive, but hopefully other large cities are following suit.

No doubt there is more that could be done to increase access to fresh, local food for all people!

cheeseslave said...

Carrie, I'm amazed that you found that comment.

I actually appreciated that comment so much, I was planning to post about it.

And you did!

(I still plan to.)

I'd like to respond to the previous poster, Alana.

I agree it is more difficult when you don't have a car. But most cities do have public transportation these days. And fresh vegetables from the farmer's market are not the end-all-be-all.

You are better off buying nutrient-dense foods like liver and shellfish, and heavy cream and butter -- available at your local health food store or even at the grocery store.

Granted, it's better to eat organic liver, but if you can get calf's liver, it is OK if it is not organic. Ask your local butcher.

Also, shellfish is packed with nutrients:

"One serving of clams per month provides the same amount of vitamin B12 as two servings of salmon per month. One serving of oysters per week likewise provides the same amount of zinc as a quarter pound of beef per day." - Chris Masterjohn

Also, heavy cream or butter from any grocery store will help you a lot more than any vegetables will. Think of them as concentrated vegetables. They contain far, far more nutrients.

Carrie T said...

Cheeseslave,

I was searching for any additional tidbits on making french fries on your post about beef tallow fries, and was reading all the comments and found that one from Craig. It was so profound. I'm anxious to see you post about it as well! You are a storehouse of knowledge!

Great points,indeed. I don't know if canned oysters have the same benefits as fresh, but I purchased some for a very reasonable price at Trader Joe's today (after seeing your blog about Oysters!).

Nutrient dense foods are accessible to anyone who goes to any grocery store. That's why I posted about Trader Joe's. You have to be discerning and not fall into the temptation of the junk / convenience foods marketed at you and shop the perimeter and stick to whole foods. Any and every grocery store is the same in this way.

Thanks for adding to the discussion Ann Marie!

Alana said...

I'd like to learn more about such nutrient dense foods. Can you point me in the direction of some good websites?

I'm glad Portland has so much accessibility. Our farmer's market here in Lexington, KY is downtown, but I don't see any of the local poor doing their shopping there. The clientele are mostly the upscale urban chic types.

Don't know if any of the farmers accept food stamps. That would be interesting and wonderful.

I wonder how we who do have access to better variety and choices can help those who don't. That's where my thoughts were when I posted my comment. In my state, poverty related obesity is a huge problem.

God have mercy!