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Can Fixing the American Food System Be This Easy?

Can Fixing the American Food System Be This Easy?

With the clamorous debates about food and food policy these days, nearly everyone has a targeted opinion, and possibly a solution, as to how Americans should be eating better.

At the center of our food system, we have American farmers, who have been struggling for too many years to remain vital, and in business, in an economy that rarely honors the hard work and perseverance such farmers provide. But the U.S. Government provides subsidies to farmers who grow commodity crops (like soy and corn) that are eventually turned into low-quality food additives or junk food, instead of rewarding farmers who supply us with quality whole foods. What if there were an equation, or a fix of some sort, that would address all the nutritional and economic inequities of the current system and create a more egalitarian and healthful model?

Well, we all want to believe it is just so easy, and maybe it is. A recent graphic that appeared on Upworthy.com reveals a “Plant the Plate” plan that makes simple and compelling sense. The plan, which comes courtesy of the Union of Concerned Scientists, an organization that was formed to “initiate a critical and continuing examination of governmental policy in areas where science and technology are of actual or potential significance” and to “devise means for turning research applications away from the present emphasis on military technology toward the solution of pressing environmental and social problem,” posits the discrepancies between what Americans eat versus what they should be eating to maintain a healthy diet. In addition, it shows how providing for such an imbalance will bring more money and security into our ailing farm economy. I could dissect and interpret such a plan, but I think it is likely best to look at the graph, as it could not be more clear:

So thoughts? Can we provide for our nutritional needs while economically bolstering our national farming community? Do you see inherent problems or holes in this model, or do you feel that such a nuanced and pervasive problem can be fixed with such an easy solution?

Read more: Blogs, Diet & Nutrition, Eating for Health, Following Food, Food, Green, Health, Vegan, Vegetarian, , , ,

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Eric Steinman

Eric Steinman is a freelance writer based in Rhinebeck, NY. He regularly writes about food, music, art, architecture, and culture and is a regular contributor to Bon Appétit among other publications.

67 comments

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1:54AM PDT on Aug 26, 2013

Thanks

9:58AM PDT on Jul 26, 2013

part of the problem as i see it is not that there's not enough fruits and vegetables to choose from, it's that we would rather eat chips and doughnuts. and the people who do eat enough fruits and veggies are already buying them at the farmer's market or coop and supporting local farmers.

one thing that i think WOULD help is if the average joe could get a taste of a locally grown tomato, pomegranate, apple, strawberry, melon, etc. ... if i could only choose from the blande tasteless stuff they sell at the supermarket i would not eat fruits and veggies either. it's disgraceful what has become of our "food." sure the apple is bright red and blemish free, but it tastes like nothing. :(

1:27AM PDT on Jul 25, 2013

noted

1:47AM PDT on Jul 24, 2013

thanks

4:18PM PDT on Jul 23, 2013

thanks

10:56AM PDT on Jul 23, 2013

The Union of Concerned Scientists has the solution; now the government needs to act. Thank you for sharing this excellent post. The infographic provides a clear picture of what is needed.

4:36AM PDT on Jul 23, 2013

Thanks

4:03AM PDT on Jul 23, 2013

Encourage backyard and roof top gardens. Community gardens are a real bonus. Allow gleaning of public fruit trees and bushes .

12:22AM PDT on Jul 23, 2013

This could work, but we would also need to eliminate the industrial distribution system characteristic of Big-Ag...and we would also have to replace the corporate government with its two corporate owned and operated parties with a Green, earth-friendly government.

12:33PM PDT on Jul 22, 2013

I love the plan. Our respective governments spend sooo much money on advertising, telling North Americans they are too fat, don't eat right, don't exercise. I think we already know these things....HELLO!! Obviously many people need some actual assistance to achieve these goals. Why not put all this money to good use....I'm sure the farmers are game!

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