The average American citizen is overworked. Many people work full time (sometimes with more than one job), have family obligations, go to school, and attempt to have hobbies. All of this activity leaves little time to wonder about the food we are eating and the system we are contributing to when we make food choices. Many people leading this busy lifestyle reach for what is fast, convenient, and more often than not, cheap. People who live in poverty are also reaching for cheap food, not just because it will buy them more food but also because in many poor areas they are subject to food deserts. Food deserts are areas that lack access to fresh produce and other nutritious foods that create a balanced and healthy diet. Eating food that lacks nutrition leads to obesity which can lead to what are known as western diseases, such as diabetes, heart disease or stroke. If there is a known correlation between a lack of nutrient rich food and obesity and the diseases that often accompany it, then why is there more access to cheap food than nutritious food?
The government subsidizes the things that contribute to American obesity, such as sugar and fat. In his book “The Real Cost of Cheap Food” Michael Carolan states that “one tenth of 1 per cent of all domestic subsidies in the US goes to supporting fruit and vegetable crops” (72). If the government truly advocates for it’s people and their health, it would not contribute to cheapening unhealthy foods, which incentivizes consumers, while prices for healthy foods such as fresh fruits and vegetables rise. It may seem like a choice to eat the unhealthy quick meal, but it becomes less of a choice and more of a necessity when considering food prices and options.
Carolan, Michael S. The Real Cost of Cheap Food. Routledge, 2011.
“Cheap Food.” Friend of the Farmer, 3 Sept. 2009, friendofthefarmer.com/2009/09/whats-wrong-with-cheap-food/.
“Food Desert.” Green Mom, 15 Mar. 2013, www.green-mom.com.