I am re-posting the following article from the Washington Post because I hear so many people complain about the high cost of vegetables and fruits. So, read on and see why it is the way it is.
But know that, we, as consumers, have the power and that we can change all of this. We can VOTE by purchasing the healthier and more nourishing types of food to show the demand, which will increase the supply, and help bring the prices lower. …well, I guess it can get a bit more complicated than that…but you get the point.
THE WASHINGTON POST ARTICLE: U.S. touts fruit and vegetables while subsidizing animals that become meat
“We’ve locked up food production with a policy that says, ‘Thou shalt not grow fruits and vegetables,’ ” says Ferdinand Hoefner, policy director for the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition, a group that lobbies for small- and mid-size farms.
By one estimate, if Americans followed the new USDA diet guidelines, an additional 13 million acres of fruit and vegetable crops would have to be planted each year to provide the food.
These payments have fallen in recent years because of the record-high prices farmers are receiving for most commodity crops. The federal government’s subsidy of ethanol has driven up corn prices. Other commodity prices have increased, too.
No end to payments
There have been calls for years to cut the subsidies. But Congress this year again avoided taking an ax to the payments. “Everybody agrees that direct subsidies to big farmers ought to be stopped, but nobody wants to say he was against subsidies if he’s campaigning in Iowa,” says Nestle. “It’s a locked-in system.”
USDA subsidies aren’t about food security, because they do little to lower the price of most of what people put in their mouths, said Ben Lilliston of the Minneapolis-based Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy, a group that opposes subsidies on the grounds that they promote the production of unhealthful food by big business.
Subsidies affect only a few human foods: Peanut butter, rice and bread are indirectly subsidized, as is high-fructose corn syrup, whose cheap ubiquity in the U.S. diet has been described as a cause of the obesity epidemic. A special program helps apple growers, and since 2008 about $50 million a year goes to other fruit and vegetable growers.
Debate on the subsidies sharpened this year amid growing concern over federal government spending. A House Appropriations subcommittee defeated an amendment by Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-Ore.) to cap direct payments at $125,000 per individual. Opposition to the measure was bipartisan.
The amendment was denounced by representatives from states where subsidies are common. “We cannot get safe food if we don’t allow our farmers to have the capacity to earn a living and to produce the highest quality, the safest and most economical food and fiber anywhere in the industrialized world,” said Rep. Sanford Bishop (D-Ga.), standing up for his peanut farmers.
Democrat Sam Farr, whose coastal California district includes some of the most productive vegetable-growing farms in the world, noted that the farmers he represents “don’t get a dime of support from the federal government. If the market falls, they eat it. If a disaster comes in, they eat it. . . . They grow what they call ‘specialty crops’ — that’s the stuff you eat all the time.”
Automatic cuts to the direct payments and other subsidy programs could kick in next year if the congressional “supercommittee” created under the debt-ceiling deal fails to make specific recommendations, say those who follow the farm budget.
For critics, the subsidy program is fundamentally flawed because of which farmers it supports as well as the kind of eating it encourages.
USDA officials see the Myplate recommendations and the subsidy programs as different issues. “Myplate doesn’t promote any kind of food,” says Robert Post, USDA’s deputy director for nutrition policy and promotion, whose office designed the graphic. “It helps people make healthier decisions at mealtimes. It’s not supposed to be a prescription, but it gives you tools to allow you to assess your own intakes within these guidelines.”
Though commodity subsidies may seem to be incompatible with USDA’s eating recommendations, Post says basic commodity prices are a tiny percentage of what consumers pay at a restaurant or grocery store, where most of the expense lies in packaging, processing and marketing.
It is possible to eat healthfully on a limited budget, Post said. “You can eat more whole grains and fruits and vegetables without great expense.” Americans on average eat only 42 percent of the recommended two cups of fruit each day and 59 percent of the 2½ cups of vegetables, he said, adding that consumer habits have a much bigger impact than price subsidies.
“Still,” Post said, “we can do more to facilitate behavioral change in eating through government strategies, and those include making these nutritious foods more available.” One of the programs intended to stimulate healthful eating, he noted, is the Farmers Market Promotion Program. It provides grants of up to $100,000 to organizations setting up farmers’ markets.
The program’s budget for 2011: $5 million.
Allen is a freelance writer and author of “Ripe: The Search for the Perfect Tomato.”