Posts tagged: subsidy

Don’t Mind Us. We’re Just Here to Cook for You.

By , February 2, 2011 10:28 am

New York Times food critic Mark Bittman has a post up titled A Food Manifesto for the Future–the word manifesto is particularly apt–in which he attempts to set our tables in the future. What we eat; where and how it’s grown or raised; and whether it’s processed, subsidized, or advertised are all of concern to him. More importantly–and because he really has little or no power–he thinks it ought to be the concern of government, though he is careful to caution that

This isn’t nanny-state paternalism but an accepted role of government: public health. If you support seat-belt, tobacco and alcohol laws, sewer systems and traffic lights, you should support legislation curbing the relentless marketing of soda and other foods that are hazardous to our health — including the sacred cheeseburger and fries.

No, Mr. Bittman, one doesn’t follow the other; furthermore, if I accept your premise, where does the other end? If I accept sewer systems, should I also be okay with my government controlling what I read, listen to, or watch? After all, for example, your paper has drawn a straight line from Sarah Palin, right-wing talk radio, and the Tea Party to Tuscon, and we certainly don’t want any more of that nasty business.

Anyway, Mr. Bittman’s laundry list of things he’d like to prohibit or subsidize reads like a page from the rules implementing the Communist Manifesto (parentheticals are mine):

-End government subsidies to processed food. (Hey, I’m fine with that.)
. . .
-Begin subsidies to those who produce and sell actual food for direct consumption. (Oh, I see. He’s not against subsidies; he’s against subsidies he doesn’t like. Never mind.)
. . .
-Outlaw concentrated animal feeding operations. (I’m on the bandwagon again!)
. . .
-Encourage the development of sustainable animal husbandry. (I’m beginning to detect a pattern here.)
. . .
-Encourage and subsidize home cooking. (A very distinct pattern.)

Mr. Bittman goes on and on and on, but you get the idea. I also get the idea that he reads from the same playbook Al Gore uses. Bittman writes,

It’s difficult to find a principled nutrition and health expert who doesn’t believe that a largely plant-based diet is the way to promote health and attack chronic diseases . . . (emphasis mine)

Note the word principled. It’s purpose in that sentence can best be understood through substition:

It’s difficult to find a nutrition and health expert I agree with who doesn’t believe that a largely plant-based diet is the way to promote health and attack chronic diseases . . . (emphasis mine again)

And that substitution illustrates perfectly Mr. Bittman’s approach to food in our lives. He doesn’t like who’s picking the winners right now, so he wants new ‘pickers,’ a bias he betrays in one more bullet point on his list of winners and losers:

-Break up the U.S. Department of Agriculture and empower the Food and Drug Administration.

There, he says to himself in a very self-satisfied way, that will fix it. My elites will do much better than that last batch of elites.

I agree wholeheartedly with one item on his bulleted list, though I might disagree with him on how the idea is implemented:

-Mandate truth in labeling. Nearly everything labeled “healthy” or “natural” is not. It’s probably too much to ask that “vitamin water” be called “sugar water with vitamins,” but that’s precisely what real truth in labeling would mean.

I’m all for more information, as long as we leave it at that and let the masses in the market decide what to do with that information. I’m also all for eliminating subsidies–totally. Shifting them from one set of winners to another doesn’t cut it.

I’m going to continue monitoring the Food Czar at The New York Times, if for no other reason than to make sure I get to read the rest of the story behind this little teaser:

(Someday soon, I’ll write about my idea for a new Civilian Cooking Corps.)

I can’t wait!! Visions of fair-skinned culinary school graduates dressed in lederhosen are dancing in my head as I write.

Can it be? We’ll have to wait and see. But right now I have to cook breakfast.

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