First Real Mention of Food Issues in the Debates
It was quick, and you may have missed it if you were hiding your head under the couch like I often feel compelled to do during presidential debates, but the great healthcare arguement has finally made a mention of obesity, one of the most prolific killers in America today (actual statistics on obesity-related deaths are nearly impossible to nail down). McCain said, when confronted about healthcare, that the country needs to develop physical fitness programs and NUTRITION PROGRAMS (caps are mine, but I know he was thinking caps). It appears the Senator is aware of these issues, and we know that he has opposed ethanol subsidies, but how does his record stand up to getting healthy food to the youth of America?
Grist ran an excellent article two weeks ago comparing the two candidates’ (Obama and McCain) stances on food issues. McCain, true to his maverick deregulating tendencies, has actually lashed out on farm subsidies on numerous occasions, but this is one more case when cavalier free-marketing will only exacerbate problems. McCain offers no suggestions as to where our food will come from if the subsidies are yanked out from under the feet of the industrial agriculture system.
Subsidies aren’t the problem so much as the particular subsidies that we have. The money currently used to prop up companies like ADM and ConAgra could be used to support small scale, healthy and ecologically responsible agricultural institutions. John McCain is right that industrial food subsidies are damning to the nation’s nutrition, but why shouldn’t these “nutrition programs” also include supporting the farmers that grow the fresh fruits and vegetables that should be finding their ways into school cafeterias?
In his policy statement, “Prosperity in Rural America”, McCain doesn’t mention alternatives to the industrial food system once. If he cares about the health of our nation, he should look upstream to see where the problem is coming from.