Thursday, December 10, 2009

A little political

I usually don't delve into politics here, but this does a little.

I was listening to NPR yesterday and there was someone on there speaking about the healthcare debate. Dr. Atul Gawande equated what needs to happen to healthcare to now what happened with food last century. You can read a transcript or listen to the interview here, so I won't go into it too much.

However, his premise was basically that at the turn of last century, food prices were very high and about 40% of Americans' incomes went to food. As a result, the government tried to lower food costs through various methods and succeeded.

And now we're dealing with healthcare costs on a similar level. He believes the government needs to fix healthcare in the same way, with various small steps rather than one big overhaul. And I'm not necessarily disagreeing with that. My concern is that we don't address really what the change in food production did.

Food can be very cheap in the U.S. now, but is the cheap food really worth the money we pay for it? We changed the way food was produced and got rid of the "inefficient" lower-yield small farmers and eventually went to mega farms reliant on pesticides and fertilizers. Is this really a better way to produce the food for the nation? I don't think so.

Also, is there possibly some correlation between us being able to get cheap food that is less nourishing and more crap-filled (and yes, I'm sure that's a technical term) and our nation being less healthy and having higher healthcare costs? The healthcare and insurance systems are way out of whack, I'm not denying that, but we as a nation are a lot less healthy in general than we were a century ago. We might live longer, but we are much more reliant on meds to keep us going than we were then.

I believe there is a correlation, a big one. I don't have facts and figures to back it up, this is just my opinion. I think this is something that is gravely overlooked and this interview I think really brought it to the forefront, even if inadvertently.

Any thought?


  1. Excellent. Well put. I was thinking when you started this, "But the food deteriorated!" And then you fleshed it all out. Big concerns for me, too, and I see a definite correlation.

    Thanks for the follow today, by the way! Welcome! :)