Dear Mr. President,
Tonight on the TV at my gym I noticed that the reporter was talking about the results of your physical. It must be incredibly surreal having to have your cholesterol numbers reported in the press. Anyway, I've been trying to make it to the gym more often lately, a new years resolution that I haven't kept as well as I'd hoped. I'm not sure what my cholesterol levels are, but, good or bad, I definitely wouldn't want to hear about them in the news. I'm sorry our culture is so strange.
When I got home, I was still thinking about health, so I decided to check out the First Lady's "Let's Move!" site. I thought most of the information seemed to be very common-sense, but I probably wouldn't have felt that way before I'd been exposed to Michael Pollan and Mark Bittman's books about food politics. The Healthy Food Financing Initiative seems like a great idea. The convenience store in my neighborhood is one of the few that carries fresh produce and a variety of cooking staples, and I've often wished that more convenience stores could be this way. But I don't think this initiative is going to go far enough to make healthy food affordable and convenient.
Mr. President, I love eggs. Eggs are a major obstacle between me and an entirely vegan diet. I was very strict about only buying the eggs from a local farm that my co-op carries. They were pretty expensive- $6+ a dozen- but I knew the chickens that produced them were not abused or mistreated, were fed organic feed, and had the freedom to run around and act like chickens, and that my money was supporting local farmers, so it was worth it. These eggs had different colored shells, bright orange yolks, and were easily the best-tasting eggs I'd ever had. I think that, when eating food that comes from animals, it is always healthier and tastier if the animals got to live happily, like animals, not like commodities in a factory. Unfortunately, last week the co-op had a sign up saying the eggs will no longer be for sale, because the farm has had to shut down, due, in part, to the rising costs of organic feed.
Wouldn't it make more sense to have a system that subsidized farms like this one? That made it easier for every one to have access to the healthiest and freshest food, with the least environmental impact? I think that more people would buy organic food if it were less expensive, and I think the farm subsidies would be better spent encouraging organic farming practices, which would lower prices. Instead of paying for large farms to grow tons of corn and soy that end up as cheap chemical additives in processed food, shouldn't our tax dollars go toward making the healthiest foods also the cheapest and most widely available? I think that convenience is paramount to so many families that all the education in the world isn't going to change some people's dietary choices so long as eating healthy is still time and cost-prohibitive.
It appears to me, anyway, as though we're paying to create the problem and then paying more to try to solve it. I think the steps you're taking in the 2011 budget are commendable, I just don't know if it will be enough to reverse the effects of so many years of bad policy.