In the early 1970’s US president Richard Nixon enacted two changes that would have striking impact on future generations:
- Removed the US from the gold standard. This would herald the end of sound, long term economic development, and shift the whole world into a debt based system of fiat currency.
- Enacted an aggressive program of farm subsidies (Nixon was also able to do this parallel to and because of change #1). This was somewhat part of the Cold War buildup, but it was also a political ploy to garner support from the conservative voting base within farming, which at that time represented a much larger percentage of the US population relative to today.
Farmers were paid to produce food. In some instances, farmers were (and are) paid to NOT produce food.
The US found itself with a glut of corn, soybeans, wheat, and similar commodities. Much of this food was lost to wastage. A simple solution was to create highly processed foods which have jaw-dropping shelf lives.
Thus was born the government subsidized junk food industry.
Compared to any other developed nation, US citizens are generally:
- Less healthy
- On more medications
- Beginning to live shorter lives
In large part, all thanks to the highly processed food which is now the staple of the US food system.
A major confounder in this story is the adoption of a low fat approach to eating as effectively the State sponsored diet.
Although well intentioned, once fat (and animal fat in particular) was vilified beyond the justifiable bounds of scientific data the State sanctioned dietary practices lent credibility to the highly processed junk foods. These foods are generally rich in carbohydrates as well as processed seed oils—products that did not exist in the human diet in any appreciable amount 100 years ago.
In more recent times, food has become a demarcation in the political wars within not just the US, but globally. Animal husbandry and the consumption of animal products has become a political hot-button topic, particularly as it relates to climate change.
Some claim that grazing animals will “destroy the planet” due to effects on climate change.
Others make the case that the ONLY food systems which may be sustainable over the time course of thousands of years will include animals to a significant degree.
Who is “right”?
Well, to figure out the best solution, we need to be able to share information and have informed discussions about it.
Yet meat has become as politicized as any hot button topic.
At present it is quite difficult to have a reasonable conversation about how meat may play an important role in health and sustainable food systems. Making matters worse, the Information Monopolies (Google, Facebook, you name it…) have already decided which side of this story they prefer, and are making it ever more difficult to not just talk about but even simply to find the basic information underpinning these topics.
For a fascinating exploration of how the industrial food system came to be, check out this Freakonomics podcast on how the Supermarket may have played a role in the US “winning” the Cold War