Sunday, September 19, 2010

Day 262- Carrot sticks

Dear Mr. President,

Glenn Beck is continuing to hone the skill that made him popular- telling people what they want to hear. Today he has decided to attack the First Lady for the Let's Move campaign, which he inexplicably sees as a threat to his french fries. Beck makes people feel good about their bad choices. Don't let the government tell you what to eat! Don't let them take your freedom fries! He's the ultimate enabler. I have no problem with Beck eating french fries until his arteries turn entirely to trans fat. I'm sure the First Lady doesn't, either. Attempting to combat the undeniable epidemic of obesity and weight-related diseases by improving the way children in this country learn about healthy lifestyle choices is admirable, and exactly no threat to Beck's, or any one's access to french fries. The conversation is uncomfortable; many people probably feel guilty about the choices they make when it comes to food and exercise. I'm sure many of these people would rather be told that they are fine and that no one should be allowed to talk about better choices they could make, as Beck does.

What Beck is doing is pathetic and ultimately perpetuates the problem of complacency, but it is nothing compared to what the government does. Our government has provided $300 billion in federal subsidies of the commodity crops corn and soy, which have made exactly the kind of processed food we should be avoiding cheaper and more accessible than ever. While the First Lady campaigns tirelessly to encourage healthier eating, your federal budget continues to undercut her efforts. All of the positive role models in the sports world can't have half the impact of altering the economic reality that processed, nutritionally bankrupt food-like-substances are cheap and widely available. Poverty is an undeniable factor in this epidemic, as well, and must be addressed in a more comprehensive way before we can expect to see any real improvement.

Taxing soda and snack food is an often-suggested way to reduce consumption. I think that's a great plan, but I know enough junk-food addicts who would fiercely oppose such a tax that I can understand why you might not want to undertake such a step in an election year. Ending subsidies of corn and soy, however, would slowly raise the cost of processing these foods, raising their price (and saving huge amounts of money for taxpayers) without directly taxing consumption.

The First Lady is having a difficult conversation with the country. Telling people that they haven't been doing right by their children is never easy, but it is a truth that must be told. Many will turn to the false comfort of people like Beck who will assure them that their way of life is sacred, untouchable. But unless policies that support the First Lady's efforts are put into place, our health and the health of our planet will continue to suffer the effects of heavily subsidized, cheap, insubstantial calories. This seems like an obvious example of Democrats saying the right thing and being completely unable to back it up with substantial policy changes. Is it any coincidence that the states with the highest obesity and poverty levels also tend to be so-called red states? Maybe it's a stretch, but I think that people generally want to be healthier and more economically stable than they want to be told comforting lies. In the absence of politicians with the courage to offer these things, however, i can see why they'd at least choose the lies that make them feel good over empty promises.

Respectfully yours,


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