Putting these expenditures into perspective, “If these agricultural subsidies went directly to consumers to allow them to purchase food, each of America’s 144 million taxpayers would be given $7.36 to spend on junk food and 11 cents with which to buy apples each year—enough to buy 19 Twinkies but less than a quarter of one Red Delicious apple apiece.”
Ty Higgins, an agriculture-industry writer for Ohio’s Country Journal, takes issue with the report. He counters that a three-inch apple has the same amount of sugar as a Twinkie, 19 grams. He also claims corn sugar, the industry’s new name for high fructose corn syrup, is no more harmful than any other sugar, that three quarters of the Farm Bill supports child nutrition, and that parents are responsible for child obesity. (For a good overview of HFCS, see “High fructose corn syrup: just another sugar?“)
These are standard industry arguments and are a bit like hospitals claiming that selling junk food in vending machines and gift shops or inviting fast-food vendors to set up shop is only a tiny part of what they do. Hospital dollars should support health. Farm Bill dollars should support agriculture that, in turn, supports health. Neither should be spent on manufactured edible junk.
The “nanny state” critics will probably jump on the commodity bandwagon and dismiss the report. What they cannot dismiss is taxpayer collusion in the increased health care costs linked to diet-related illnesses. Apples to Twinkies calls it like it is: “Taxpayers are paying for the privilege of making our country sick.”
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