Sunday, April 22, 2007

Fattening up our nation with farm subsidies...

By the end of this week, this blog should be back in full swing - I've got a post on Vectors, Quaternions and Thomas Pynchon's Against the Day coming up, a review of David Lindley's new book Uncertainty, and a discussion of why the newly sequenced macaque genome, published in Science, is going to help us learn great things.

In the meantime, here's a thought provoking, if somewhat obvious, article in today's NY Times magazine on how the US government's farm subsidies are exacerbating the obesity epidemic that biomedical researchers and physicians are trying so hard to contain.

Almost the best quote I've read all week (it can't quite compete with some gems from the Gonzales hearing):

"The farm bill essentially treats our children as a human Disposall for all the unhealthful calories that the farm bill has encouraged American farmers to overproduce."

As a postdoc with three kids (one of whom, as a second grader, gets to be one of those human Disposalls) and a subsistence salary, this subject hits close to home. It's extremely depressing to walk through the grocery store and see how much cheaper it would be if I gave up on the real juice and fresh vegetables, and instead fed my kids flavored corn syrup, tater tots, and processed frozen vegetables drenched in salt and fake butter. At least in my case, the depressingly tight grocery budget is temporary (assuming a tenure-track job is somewhere in my future), but that's not true for millions of Americans who are very likely to end up obese while living on affordable junk food.

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