Saturday, 28 September 2013

Iiiiit's harvest time!

We watched a documentary on food in America. I was lured in by Jeff Bridges but enamoured with the details within this programme. Over 50 million hungry Americans. An abundance of desert areas - places where you can't buy fruit or vegetables without getting on two buses. The fact that since the 80s, fruit and vegetable prices have soared 40% in price, whereas the high calorie aka junk food, has decreased in price by the same equivalent. Obesity and hunger walk side by side and are far more interlinked than you might expect. The fact is, fruit and vegetables are costly - they are not subsidised, small farms don't bring the advantages to the Government that the large global companies do. Money. Greed.

Ironically, in the 70s hunger was nearly eliminated in America - then CORN happened (thanks to Nixon and Earl Butz, an academic). Enormous and addictively 'good' chips, burgers, fries and pop thanks to astonishingly large corn crops, invested in by the Government. For America, corn meant money, money, money. Then high fructose corn syrup was added to the mix and pumped into every food, from pizzas, to coleslaw and meat. HFCS provides that 'just baked' sheen we see as so American, sweetening everything and extending its shelf life to years. Now all that cheap bad food has made people fat, unhealthy and hungry. The cost of greed.. 50 million people. I know, I've said it before and I'll say it again, FIFTY million people.

For such a 'powerful', 'influential' and 'developed' country, how can this figure be so high? Cuts. Greed. Cuts. Greed. Funding for food (stamps and schools) is down, as is the price of trashy food - down. Feed your people trash by not providing enough money for them to buy healthily - and let's not forget the interest the Government has in the sugar world - have more money in the piggy bank. 'The problem is not food shortage, but poverty,' says the doc. People with morals - why would you feed people trash and make them sick? Why would you feed kids for $1 a day at school and subsequently feed them orange, chemically filled food that gives them poor concentration and a terrible attitude to nutrition that will stay with them forever, possibly causing health problems in their future which will not be helped by a lack of insurance to pay for their required healthcare - because their development may have been hindered in class (studies have proven the importance of nutrition in early life for physical and mental development) and insurance is expensive? Where is the CARE? How can such a country be in this position?

On a personal note, it makes me feel very lucky to be in a position to buy the nutritional food we need to be healthy. However, I know that we live in a bubble. I know that many families are unable to get by and struggle to buy food, relying on food banks. The cost of living is so enormous, wages have frozen and it must be impossible to prioritise the necessities. We, as a couple, complain that we are unable to save very much, that we coast along because our rent is enormous, as are our bills - of course we will have less when the baby is here - but we can afford good food. We will teach the kid all about nutrition and looking after yourself. To enjoy the beauty of good food.

It makes me really sad that so many Americans are not able to do this - as well as those in the UK. Food is so basic, we should be able to provide it - as a country. We have a surplus of it! It's so essential. Just imagine going to school and trying to concentrate as a child with a growling belly, then coming home to only junk food for tea. Awful, tiring and miserable. Even not having breakfast sets me back, it's imperative to a productive day, while living off sugar can only ultimately get you down.

I'm not sure what to do, the situation we all know so well - it surrounds us (vending machines and corner shops filled with confectionary, deals on sweet everything). But I know that healthy food should not be a luxury and if we can make little steps here, growing food in our gardens for example and delivering the extra produce to food banks - that's moving in a good direction. As is educating people on nutrition so they can shun the trash. There are ways to solve this, surely?

Sugar giants and the greedy Governments though, are another story.


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