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    Archive for the ‘soda tax’ Category

    2011: A Year to Remember (and Forget!)

    It wasn’t until I started compiling stories for this post that I realized just how much had taken place this year on issues of food, agriculture, and nutrition. While by no means a definitive list, I think it covers the most substantial events.

    So, if you’ve been spelunking in Antarctica for the past twelve months — or just want a short trip down memory lane — let’s review 2011, the year where:
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    Why “The Soda Tax” Leaves Me Flat

    710282230_d1fa677c20After months of low-voiced rumblings, it now appears a New York City soda tax is closer to reality than ever before.

    Many nutrition professionals consider this a victory; my mood, however, is not quite as celebratory.

    It appears the main drive behind this “sin tax” is to prop up New York state’s floundering economy.  In that light, how much of this money can we realistically expect to be spent on nutrition education and assistance programs?  After all, measures like these can only prove successful if they are also in favor of something.  It is not enough to simply be “against soda”.  What alternatives will be supported?  How?

    Apparently, some cities have vowed to spend a pre-determined portion of the money raised by a soda tax on improving school lunches.  Sounds like a start.

    My main problem?  I simply can’t muster up enthusiasm about the addition a few cents to the cost of a beverage which has a government-subsidized main ingredient!

    High-fructose corn syrup is the by-product of crop subsidies.  Remember, farmers that receive government agricultural subsides are not allowed to grow other fruits and vegetables!  Read that again, please.  THAT, right there, is the problem that needs a solution.

    Forget a “penny per ounce tax”; what I really want is for my government to stop funding an agricultural system that essentially produces endless tons of cheap junk food on a daily basis.  The fact that farmers can be forbidden from growing pears or apples if they also want to plant a commodity crop (like cotton, wheat, soy, or corn) is mind-blowing.

    This goes right back to the “some of the proceeds will go to improving school lunch” promises.  I applaud the effort and vision, but the deplorable state of most school lunches is a consequence of agricultural subsidies.

    You don’t fix a leak by placing a bigger bucket underneath it with each passing day.  So, too, we can’t expect nutrition and public health issues to be effectively dealt with when our economic priorities are so skewed.


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