The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) recommends we all eat 2 to 3 cups of vegetables per day.
What would happen if we all tried to follow that recommendation? We’d soon find out that there aren’t enough vegetables available for Americans to follow USDA guidelines.
That’s because the Farm Bill, that massive piece of legislation that determines how $90 billion a year in tax dollars is spent to shape our food system, favors subsidies that support processed, GMO junk foods, over healthy, nutrient-dense vegetables.
TAKE ACTION: Tell Congress: Put more veggies in the Farm Bill!
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 91 percent of Americans don’t eat the recommended amount of vegetables.
Maybe that’s because most schools don’t serve veggies, so kids grow up without developing a taste for them. Maybe it’s because, relative to processed junk food, vegetables are expensive.
But it’s also true that Americans couldn’t eat the recommended amount of vegetables even if they wanted to—because there aren’t enough to go around.
Without enough vegetables to go around, about 85 percent of Americans don’t get the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) recommended daily intakes of the most important vitamins and minerals necessary for proper physical and mental development. Is it any wonder that half of all American adults—117 million individuals—have one or more preventable chronic diseases, many of which are related to poor diet?
We have the Farm Bill to thank for America’s vegetable deficit—and for the fact that people who rely on the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) to help feed their families aren’t encouraged under that program, which is funded under the Farm Bill, to buy vegetables.
Nearly 41.2 million Americans live in food-insecure households, including 12.9 million children.
To relieve hunger, Congress should protect and strengthen the SNAP program.
Under the current Farm Bill, SNAP benefits are too low—they average less than $1.39 per person per meal.
SNAP recipients and other low-income individuals who struggle to fill themselves up on this budget are driven towards high-calorie, nutrient-poor foods. The top ten sources of calories for low-income eaters are, in descending order, soda, chicken, sweets, bread, tortillas, pizza, beef, pasta, chips, and alcohol.
What do most of these foods have in common? They come from crops and animals that are heavily subsidized by the Farm Bill.
According to a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) study, people with the highest consumption of federally subsidized foods had a 37-percent greater risk of being obese. They were also significantly more likely to have belly fat, abnormal cholesterol, high levels of blood sugar and inflammation.
How do we fix SNAP? And provide more vegetables for everyone? We fix the Farm Bill.
Once every five years, the Farm Bill comes up for reauthorization, giving Congress a chance to rewrite it. This year, 2018, it’s up again.
If Congress wants to help reduce malnutrition and diet-related disease, it should include legislation in the Farm Bill to encourage the production of more organic vegetables—instead of considering nonsense proposal’s like Trump’s “Harvest Box” which would force-feed nutrient-poor processed (and highly subsidized) foods to SNAP recipients.
It’s time to stop letting Congress use the Farm Bill to subsidize the richest landowners growing monocultures of Monsanto’s pesticide-drenched genetically engineered grains used to make high fructose corn syrup, ethanol and feed for animals in factory farms.
We need healthy food for healthy people. That means we need a better Farm Bill.
TAKE ACTION: Tell Congress: Give us a Farm Bill with More Veggies!