Just a Rant (Inspired by Michael Pollan’s Food Rules)

This past Friday, my husband and I headed east to drop Alli off in New York for her junior year of college. My husband drove our well packed SUV towing the camper (for a “Hey, we’re empty-nesters again!” vacation), while Alli drove “her” car. Each time we stopped for a bite to eat, or fuel up, I offered to drive so she could take a break. To this she enthusiastically responded, “No, I’m fine!” I think she was on a mission to prove she could accomplish the drive on her own (rather impressive, as it is a 900 mile drive).  I wasn’t heartbroken.

First of all, one (me) can only take so much country music. (There is absolutely no genetic reason as to why she should like country music, but she does. 13 hours of country would have pushed me over the edge–which coincidentally sounds like a country music song in the making.)

Second of all, and probably most importantly, I could bury my nose in a book and make the time fly by. 

(As luck would have it, my Amazon book order arrived just as we were ready to head out, so I had lots of books to choose from! This somewhat saved my husband from my wrath, as our scheduled departure time was noon, and I knocked myself out making sure everything was ready to go when he got home. Unfortunately, he got stuck at work and didn’t get home until almost 3 pm. Hmmm…looks like I could have gone to yoga after all.  Grrrr….)

Anyway…I’m past that now. For the most part.

I started with a couple of memoirs that I plan on using as mentor texts for a narrative writing unit in Writer’s Workshop. Ralph Fletcher (Marshfield Dreams), and Jerry Spinelli  (Knots in My YoYo String) kept me company as we passed through Indiana and Ohio. Had these books been available to my husband when he was a middle schooler, he may have actually read a book. Great stories. Well written. Powerful mentor texts.

Out of My Mind by Sharon Draper,  helped pass time through Pennsylvania and New York and will be a great addition to my classroom library. (You should read this no matter how old you are. I cried…a tell tale sign of a good book.)

Finally, midway through New York, it was Karen time. I dug through my school bag and pulled Michael Pollan’s Food Rules


And before I even finished the introduction, I felt more than a little bit irritated:

The more you process a food, the more profitable it becomes.

We are being taken advantage of in terms of our pocketbook and our health. And what’s worse, is that we don’t even think about it. We tend to trust that the government keeps our best interests in mind when it comes to our health and finances. But nothing could be further from the truth. 

Originally, the government subsidized food as a way to manage surplus and to help keep prices stable. Commendable.

But somewhere along the line, the act of subsidizing food took a turn. And now, according to The Environmental Working Group, “…75 percent of farm subsidies (go) to firms with incomes in the top 10 percent.”  The U.S. PIRG reports that “profitable corporations, like Cargill and Monsanto, have pocketed $18 billion in the last 16 years”. The cost of manufacturing “foods” containing commodity-related ingredients has declined,  and the consumption of unhealthy foods has increased, taking a toll on our health.

Products like corn, wheat, soybeans, top the list of subsidized foods, and are ingredients used in the manufacturing of nutrient poor foods like cookies, cakes, chips, and soda. Like it or not, American taxpayers are funding the production of junk food.

If the government truly acted in our best interest, they’d be subsidizing fruits and vegetables. You’d be hard pressed to find a study that doesn’t promote the consumption of fruits and vegetables as part of a healthy diet.

So why aren’t we making fruits and vegetables more accessible? We’d be healthier. Our health care costs would decrease. That would qualify as a win-win for you and I.

Makes you question the relationship between our government and big agriculture, doesn’t it?


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