How the Government Makes You Fat
by Alex Yackery
States Government wants you to be fat; or at least their current
agricultural policy would dictate so. Through a multitude of subsidies,
protectionist tariffs, and misguided nutritional policy the USDA
has promoted obesity, degenerative disease, damaged the environment,
and putrefied the nationís supply of animal protein.
agricultural subsidies date back to 1862 with the Morrill Act establishing
land-grant colleges, but modern programs began popping up around
the 1930ís. The Agricultural Adjustment Act of 1933 forever changed
the face of American agriculture through vigorous regulation including
price supports, production controls, crop insurance, and limited
competition via import barriers.
have only expanded since; new crops have been added to subsidy rolls,
additional disaster relief programs have been enacted, revenue protection
locks in high crop prices, in addition to taxpayer financed crop
insurance, marketing support, research, statistical data collection,
and guaranteed loans. The USDA spent close to $150 billion in 2011,
distributing roughly $27 billion in cash subsidies per year to growers
of five crops: wheat, corn, soybeans, rice, and cotton.
The Farm Service
Agency (FSA) is "moving aggressively to realize its vision
of strengthening U.S. agriculture" as stated in their 2005-2011
Strategic Plan. The FSAís Strategic Plan proclaims that itís goals
are to enhance international competitiveness of American agriculture,
enhance sustainability, improve quality of life in rural America,
protect the Nationís food supply and environment, and improve the
Nationís nutrition and health. The reality is that the USDAís policy
hampers every one of these goals at the expense of Americanís health
and wealth. Current policy influences farmers to grow crops that
maximize subsidy payments, not to satisfy market demand. The worst
part is that humans did not evolve to consume the most heavily subsidized
crops (grains), and these foods have propagated the epidemic of
obesity in America.
From an evolutionary
perspective the human diet has consisted of foods that grow naturally
like nuts, leafy greens, regional vegetables, tubers, seasonal fruits,
and berries in addition to meat, nuts, and eggs as noted by numerous
health advocates. This diet dates back 2 million years ago to the
origins of our ancestors of the genus Homo. Michael Power and Jay
Schulkin, the authors of The
Evolution of Obesity, state that "our nutrient requirments,
metabolism, and digestive abilities are heavily influenced by our
evolutionary past" and that our ancetorsí diet "was unlikely
to contain significant quantities of easily digested starches, such
as from processed grains". Their findings also show that this
diet was likely "lower in fiber and higher in animal tissue"
as well as "unlikely to have contained large amounts of simple
sugars". This should come as common sense as there is no tree
with loaves of bread growing from it, nor is there a bush that buds
high fructose corn syrup every spring.
Until the advent
of the agricultural revolution roughly 10,000 years ago, grains
have played little to no role in the human diet. This period is
a blip on the radar that pales in comparison to the millions of
years we evolved. Due to the fact that "the glycemic index
of [our ancestorsí] diet was likely quite low", we are not
adept to handling the high-glycemic load of the modern diet (Power
& Schulkin, 2009). The inconvenient truth is that whatever the
carbohydrate source, it will be broken down into glucose and likely
be stored as fat. Ingestion of carbohydrates triggers an insulin
spike that wreaks havoc in the body increasing adrenaline and cortisol,
taxing "the adrenal system, the pancreas, the immune system,
and results in a tiny amount of inflammation" according to
Mark Sisson, the author of The
Primal Blueprint. This chain of events occurs daily due
to current policy that promotes cultivation of grains and nutritional
policy that advocates their consumption.
subsidized grains, such as corn, have come to represent cheap calories.
Overproduction and stockpiling by farmers and agri-businesses seeking
maximum subsidy payments, despite the efforts of price supports,
have sufficiently lowered price. Cheap, readily available grains
have led to the proliferation of the food-processing industry and
inclusion of grains in virtually every item on super market shelves.
The most potent
offender in this category is high fructose corn syrup. The USDA
began paying farmers to grow as much corn as possible a generation
ago, and cheap corn led to the development of the corn processing
industry. High fructose corn syrup is sugar, a nutrient with a daily
requirement of zero, and yet has become the backbone of the American
diet. Is it a coincidence that the USDAís 2010 Dietary Policy Guidelines
for Americans states that in the 1970ís, when corn processing was
in its infancy, 15% of Americans were obese whereas in 2008 34%
were obese? I think not.
modified corn of today hardly resembles the wild grass it once was.
Genetically designed to resist harmful pesticides, the overproduction
of this starchy grain has destroyed the nutritional content of the
majority of the nationís animal protein sources that our ancestors
thrived on. Animal feed has come to consist predominantly of corn
in addition to a slew of other grains, growth hormones, antibiotics,
and at times pieces of other animals.
Much like humans,
animals did not evolve to eat grains, and the quality of our nationís
meat supply has declined due to their un-natural feed. Grain-fed
animals get sick easily, and antibiotics are a necessary addition
to their feed to keep them alive, while making their way into our
bodies and the ground. Michael Pollanís article Power Steer
cites a study in The European Journal of Clinical Nutrition
that "found that the meat of grass-fed livestock not only had
substantially less fat than grain-fed meat but the type of fats
found in grass-fed meat were much healthier". This is because
grass fed animals sport higher levels of CLA, which is believed
to have cancer-fighting properties, an ideal 1:1 ratio of Omega-3
to Omega-6 fatty acids, has no need for daily antibiotics, no run-ins
with toxic fertilizers or genetically modified grains, and a much
lower incidence of E-coli. Just as humans have not evolved to eat
grains, we have not evolved to consume grain-fed animal products.
The availability of cheap grain has changed the way we raise animals,
degraded our land, endangered our nationís meat supply, and is a
contributing factor to a host of inflammatory diseases with their
roots in a skewed ratio of Omega fatty acids.
The USDA Dietary
Policy is riddled with offenses to our nationís health. The policy
guide criminalizes dietary cholesterol advocating a diet consisting
of less than 300 mg per day. The reality is that our livers have
evolved to produce up to 1,400 mg of this essential lipid, down
regulating production based on dietary intake. Cholesterol is an
essential part of every cell in our bodies. Studies confirm that
there is no strong correlation between dietary cholesterol and high
levels of blood cholesterol.
is commonly pointed at as the culprit of heart disease, it is not
the true cause of heart disease. Inflammation from consumption of
carbohydrates and sugars is the cause of heart disease, not the
consumption of fats or cholesterol. The Framingham Heart Study has
studied individuals since the 1950ís and has concluded that cholesterol
is misleading as a main contributor to heart disease.
cultures such as the Masai and Inuit, whose diets consist of meat
and high-blubber animals while boasting excellent cardiovascular
health, confirm this fact.
fact, the USDAís new version of the food pyramid tagged "MyPlate"
blatantly disregards our evolutionary diet. Their over-simplified
depiction of the proper diet blindly recommends fruits, vegetables,
grains, protein, and dairy with no regard for what foods comprise
those choices. The inclusion of grains as part of the recommended
diet is an inflammatory atrocity. Vegetables should be nutrient
dense choices from organic sources to avoid harmful pesticides from
toxifying our bodies. Contemporary fruits are bred for sugar content
in degraded soil; seasonal, local fruits, especially organic berries
are best. Protein sources should be clean, grass-fed animal sources
and high fat fish for ample sources of protein and quality fats.
And what about the exclusion of fats? Fat is the bodyís preferred
source of energy, and good fats from a variety of sources such as
nuts, avocados, fish, and eggs should comprise the majority of caloric
intake. Inflammation of the body and oxidation are combated with
a diet rich in anti-oxidants found in vegetables, fruits, wine,
and even dark chocolate.
In a free market
there is no incentive for farmers to distort the supply of crops
as there currently is due to subsidy payments. Farmerís do not feel
the effects of oversupply because their income off of crops like
corn comes from the subsidy payments, which guarantee a certain
price. Government incentives encourage farmerís to grow crops regardless
of market demand, which resulted in companies taking advantage of
these stockpiled commodities. In the end, it is the American taxpayer
who looses on many levels; increased taxes to finance subsidy payments,
increased prices at the supermarket due to price supports and protectionist
tariffs, proliferation of processed foods made from stockpiled supplies
of highly subsidized grains un-natural to the human diet, and in
turn an increase in the nationís incidence of obesity, diabetes,
and other degenerative diseases.
policy promotes the overproduction of grains, which are un-natural
for humans and animals alike. This has putrefied our food supply
through the creation of processed foods containing modifications
of grains like corn, and robbed meat of its proper levels of healthy
nutrients and fats. This would not be the case if the government
did not incentivize farmers, food producers, and consumers to seek
out cheap calories from un-natural grain sources. Combined with
USDA dietary guidelines that stray from our evolutionary background
these policies have promoted obesity in America, robbed taxpayers
of trillions of dollars, and increased the incidence of chronic
What we eat
should be a choice; dictated by the free market of consumers and
supplied by farmers and food producers who will accurately fulfill
demand to maximize profits, not influenced by government incentives.
Instead of paying farmers to grow foods that make us sick and fat,
why not let them choose what to grow? Over 2,000 years ago Hippocrates
said, "Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food",
a concept that we have lost touch with. We need agricultural reform
to wean farmers off subsidies and protectionist tariffs to free
our markets and level the playing field so that consumers donít
have to choose between cheap calories and their health.
[send him mail] is a Senior
currently studying economics at Loyola University Maryland.
© 2012 by LewRockwell.com. Permission to reprint in whole or in
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