In a couple of recent posts, including part six of Character vs. Chemistry, I wrote that the Grand Plans designed by The Anointed to battle obesity will fail because those plans are based on the belief that weight loss is about character, not chemistry.  Well, in the interest of fairness, I feel obligated to point out that not every Grand Plan imposed on us by The Anointed fails because of biochemical ignorance.  Most fail because of economic ignorance.

In fact, to believe that the typical Grand Plan proposed by The Anointed will actually work, you pretty much have to be an economic illiterate.  You have to believe, for example, that young people who already refuse to buy inexpensive health insurance will flock to buy insurance that costs three times as much if you just run some cute ads encouraging them to spend the holidays wearing pajamas and drinking hot chocolate and #GetTalking with their parents about insurance.  That’s how The Anointed believe it should work, so by gosh, that’s how it will work.

Which brings me another Grand Plan to battle obesity:  spending taxpayer money to make sure plenty of fruits and vegetables are available in poor neighborhoods.  That’s why so many poor people are fat, ya see … they don’t have access to the magical fruits and vegetables that guarantee weight loss.  And of course, if we just make the magical fruits and vegetables available, poor people will flock to buy them (elbowing young people flocking to buy expensive insurance out of the way in the process), eat those vegetables, and then lose weight.  That’s how The Anointed believe it should work, so by gosh, that’s how it will work.

If you’re a long-time reader, you may recall that I’ve pointed out the economic fallacies in that Grand Plan before.  Here’s what I wrote in a post three years ago:

Here’s a simple economics lesson:  businesses don’t determine what consumers will buy.  Consumer behavior determines what businesses will produce and sell.  If fast food restaurants thrive in poor neighborhoods while stores that sell fresh fruit and vegetables don’t, there’s a good reason for it.  Using tax dollars to bring more fruits and vegetables to areas where people don’t buy fruits and vegetables isn’t going to reduce childhood obesity.  It’s just going to lead to a lot of rotten fruits and vegetables.

In fact, one corner-store owner in Philadelphia agreed, at the urging of The Anointed, to sell 15-cent bags of apple slices so poor kids would eat more fruit.  He ended up throwing most of them away – at a loss of $500 to his business.

Here’s what I wrote in another post two years ago:

Even if we’re talking about neighborhoods where there truly aren’t as many vegetables being sold, people get the causality backwards.  The local residents aren’t fat because they don’t have access to vegetables.  The vegetables aren’t available because people don’t buy them.

… Here’s what people like Mrs. Obama can’t seem to grasp:  if enough people in those neighborhoods wanted lettuce and fruit in their kids’ lunches, plenty of greedy capitalists would happily move in to sell them.

… No problem then.  The government’s on the job and planning a comprehensive response.  That of course means a really expensive and ultimately futile response.

Well, I guess that depends on your definition of really expensive.  Since I don’t work in the federal government, a figure of, say, $500 million sounds to me like a huge waste if some comprehensive response doesn’t work.  (I mean, geez, imagine if you spent nearly double that on a crappy web site that didn’t work and then had to go spend even more to get it fixed.)

But of course, part of what makes it so awesomely wonderful about being a member of The Anointed is that you get to spend other people’s money to institute your Grand Plans.  No need to start small to test your theory.  No need to try opening Uncle Sam’s Cheep Fruits and Veggie Stand in a few poor neighborhoods to see if people eat more vegetables and lose weight.  No need to stock some existing grocery stores with cheap fruit and track the sales.  Nope, if you’re a member of The Anointed, you may as well go whole-hog and plunk down $500 million in taxpayer dollars.

So here are the latest results:

With the obesity epidemic in full swing and millions of American living in neighborhoods where fruits and vegetables are hard to come by, the Obama administration thought it saw a solution: fund stores that will stock fresh, affordable produce in these deprived areas.

But now, three years and $500 million into the federal Healthy Food Financing Initiative, there’s a problem: A study suggests it’s not working.

Adding supermarkets to areas with short supplies of fresh produce does not lead to improvements in residents’ diets or health outcomes, according to a report published Monday in the February issue of Health Affairs.

So The Anointed in government thought they saw an untapped market for fruits and vegetables that the greedy capitalists somehow missed, but it turns out they were wrong.  Boy, I’ll bet nobody saw that coming.

When a grocery store was opened in one Philadelphia food desert, 26.7 percent of residents made it their main grocery store and 51.4 percent indicated using it for any food shopping, the report found. But among the population that used the new supermarket, the researchers saw no significant improvement in BMI, fruit and vegetable intake, or perceptions of food accessibility, although there was a significant improvement in perception of accessibility to fruits and vegetables.

Well, if people perceive that they have more access to fruits and vegetables without actually buying them, that’s certainly worth $500 million … although it would have been cheaper to just run TV ads telling them that fruits and vegetables were in great supply.

The report was authored by a team of researchers from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine and Penn State University’s departments of sociology, anthropology, and demography. The study was funded by the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences with support from the Population Research Institute, although neither had a hand in the research design, collection, or analysis.

Awesome.  So we’re spending taxpayer money to study why spending taxpayer money on yet another Grand Plan didn’t work.  Is this a great country or what?

The study needs to be replicated in other neighborhoods and other parts of the United States to confirm or refute these findings, said lead researcher Steven Cummins, professor of population health at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine. The results do, however, mirror findings in the U.K., where researchers created a similar comparison of two neighborhoods in Scotland and observed no net effect on fruit and vegetable intake.

Wow.  It’s almost as if the laws of economics apply all over the world.  But we don’t know that for sure, so we really need to spend more taxpayer money to confirm that spending taxpayer money on yet another Grand Plan didn’t work.

And if the conclusion is borne out, it would suggest that policymakers rethink the Healthy Food Financing Initiative if they want to promote healthier eating and healthier citizens.

Hmmm, let’s see if I can remember what The Anointed conclude when a Grand Plan fails … okay, it came to me:

  • The plan was good but people didn’t implement it correctly because they’re stupid.
  • The plan was undermined by people who opposed it because they’re evil.
  • The plan didn’t go far enough – we need to do same thing again only bigger.

Cummins said in an email that lawmakers ought to consider policies that will change community behavior to incorporate healthy food into everyday diets.

“These might include economic initiatives such as taxes on unhealthy foods and subsidies on healthy foods, marketing initiatives that focus on in-store promotion of healthy food, and programs that focus on skills related to buying and cooking components of a balanced diet,” Cummins said.

Yeah, what we need to do is spend even more taxpayer money trying to tell people what to eat – because it’s worked so well so far.  Then if that doesn’t work, we can spend more taxpayer money to study why spending taxpayer didn’t work.  Oh, and let’s tax the unhealthy foods too.

Anyone care to bet that The Anointed would correctly identify the “unhealthy” foods?

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60 Responses to “Another Grand Plan Fails”
  1. The food desert analysis is a joke. Just for fun, I checked my own town on the map. The “desert” is in the older section of town, where there isn’t enough room for a full-sized modern supermarket with all the required parking spaces. Instead, there are several ethnic grocery stores offering a wide variety of fresh fruits and vegetables at reasonable prices, as well as full-service meat counters. There are only a couple of aisles of sugary drinks and packaged food, so the store does not need to be large. That’s where I have to go to buy beef heart. This area is my food oasis.

    I’m sure there are areas where there’s not much by way of fruits and vegetables for sale, but that would reflect a lack of demand, not a lack of supply by evil capitalists.

    • Lori Miller says:

      Some of Denver’s “food deserts” are industrial/retail areas, a golf course, the South Platte River, along major highways, neighborhoods walking distance from major bus lines, and way out in the suburbs where nobody moves to without a car. There’s even one where my best friend and I went to once because there were so many places to get tamales.

      Those sound like perfect places for Uncle Sam to open some grocery stores.

  2. Rick says:

    Sounds about right. However you know the response will be, either you are are racist, you hate poor people or both.

    Sure, that’s straight out of the Leftist playbook: if you can’t debate your opponent using logic and facts, call him a racist instead.

  3. Oh, yeah. Since The Annointed know less than nothing about nutrition, the probability of correctly identifying the “unhealthy” food is substantially worse that random chance.

    My estimate is that it is pretty close to zero, even with the dawning of the realization that 100+ lbs of sugar/year/kid might not be optimal, so you might want to cut that down to 95. After, them thar sugar companies got nearly as much money (for those critically-need political contributions) as the statin companies, so we wouldn’t want to go too far, now would we?

    • duckinfantry says:

      On Hulu, a “end food desert” commercial is shown.
      Here’s the commercial:

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WrRELGNuASA

      This spot was made by platformbreathe, whose platform is to ‘use democracy as a vehicle for change’. In other words, fool suckers to make decisions for others which they are not making for themselves.

      Head. Bang. On. Desk.

  4. Miriam says:

    Yes, well probably they’ll get about 1/4th of the unhealthy foods right. The sugar. But even in condemning sugar it somehow never comes across as serious as that Evil Fat.

    I look forward to the day of walled-off ghettos where the obese are kept. Inside, stores will only be authorized to sell grain, fruit and vegetables. Corn oil, toaster pastries and some boneless, skinless chicken breasts will be allowed, but only with ration coupons to make sure no one is eating too much fat and sugar. Some of the obese will be allowed out to work, but only with the fat symbol sewn on their clothing to ensure that no restaurants or stores sell to them. At Christmas the Benevolent Leaders will visit, passing out a few Christmas cookies, and 1/4 cup of butter per person will be shipped in for the celebration. Everyone will have to swipe their ID cards at the hamster wheels…eh, I mean the treadmills, for their mandatory 40 minutes per day.

    Of course when the obese fail to change, they will discover the huge black market in soda, french fries, butter and candy bars. Then the answer will of course eventually have to be that the entire population, regardless of size, cannot have access to these kinds of dangerous foods. The Benevolent Leaders, as they shake hands over steaks in their enclave, will congratulate themselves on a job well done as the average life expectancy drops to 50.

    A friend of mine once floated an idea for a movie script about a future society where rebels have to sneak off to a hideaway to smoke, eat meat, and tell jokes that some people might find offensive. Maybe we should produce that movie while it’s still fiction.

    • Brad says:

      I know that movie…Demolition Man

    • Alex (@FedFanForever) says:

      Didn’t this already happen in WALL-E? The obese banished to outer space?

      I think all the humans were obese in WALL-E.

    • Jill says:

      Just on the “offensive” thing – I don’t know if you, Tom, are a conservative?

      At any rate I’ve read and talked with plenty of conservatives (or nonMarxists) and this idea that they’re happy to be “offended” in the name of free speech and liberty etc is entirely fallacious.
      They LOVE to think they’re champions of “free speech” logic and reason and criticise other people and types of people endlessly, in some very nasty terms i might add. But boy, when they’re criticised or offended, suddenly they turn into delicate egos on legs and swell like a puffer fish.

      I have met a couple who can take it on the chin but then those two or three have a sens of humour about themselves. The rest don’t seem to.
      It’s annoying but sort of funny.
      Just my observations of a limited (in scientific terms) population. Carry on. ;)

      I’m a libertarian, which tends to put me in the conservative camp on issues like economic freedom and limited government, but not on issues such as the Drug War. Conservative vs. Liberal is often a false dichotomy. The more accurate dividing line is often between libertarians and statists.

  5. And then you get into the bitch fight between vegantards who insist that rice magically doesn’t cause the graunching death of billions of frogs, and that potatoes are a low glycemic food, and the regular vegetards who believe that eating weeds is the way to go, and there’s something wrong with the human instinct to eat meat, but if we just convert enough people to weedism at gunpoint, we’ll magically turn all that ranchland in Texas into a verdant rainforest full of farting unicorns.

    At taxpayer expense, while trying to deny me a ribeye.

    Weedism … sweet.

  6. Jason says:

    I’m laughing out loud Tom. Excellent work! How do you get a job at one of these anointed institutions? It seems to be a recession-proof career where you don’t have to produce any positive results. It’s like the laws of economics cease to exist when you arrive at work. I feel like a cheese omelette.

    The laws of economics do cease in a sense when you’re a member of The Anointed and work for a government-supported institution. You don’t have produce something other people want. You get to live on money confiscated from people who do produce something other people want. So you can be an economic ignoramus and still make a comfortable living.

  7. Pierson says:

    “Anyone care to bet that The Anointed would correctly identify the “unhealthy” foods?”

    It’s simple, Tom; unhealthy foods are whatever they, their friends, and their family personally agree are absolutely terrible, and shouldn’t be eaten. Y’know, because us ignorant unwashed masses couldn’t possibly decide that for ourselves.

    In all seriousness though, how long do you think it’ll be before there’s a minimum ‘age of consent’ placed on what the intelligista consider to be unhealthy foods? Really, could one be considered a ‘sugar offender’ for serving cupcakes at a children’s birthday party?

    Careful. I’ve learned over the years that if you use comic exaggeration to make fun of The Anointed, they eventually catch up to the exaggeration.

    • Tom Welsh says:

      Actually, Tom, C.S. Lewis made exactly that point in a letter he wrote back in 1959.

      “The devil about writing satire now-a-days is that reality constantly outstrips you”.

      How right he was.

      • gollum says:

        I believe the feeling is somewhat older than that.
        “Difficile est non satirem scribere”
        (excuse the garbled Latin)
        Juvenal?

  8. Lori Miller says:

    I shop for my pastured meat at a co-op in a mostly Latino neighborhood by the train tracks. Mostly, I see white people getting in and out of their Volvos and Minis and Subarus by the store.

    I was just reading a quote by Thomas Sowell about the doers and the do-nots. He tweeted it, but it’s also from The Vision of the Anointed. In the book, he continues, “In the world of the anointed, human nature is readily changeable. To say that a particular policy requires the changing of other people’s dispositions and values may to others suggest a daunting prospect but, to the anointed, it is a golden opportunity.”

    Yup. As in, if we just make fruits and vegetables more available, we can change what fat people prefer to eat.

  9. Lori Miller says:

    A bit OT, but something reminded me today of Sowell’s younger days when he packed up and left home at a young age and dared a social worker to find him in a city of eight million people. Today, people lionize interminable adolescence in a close-knit family, but his perspective was of leaving a bunch of busybodies and making an honest living in peace. One person’s cold, lonely existence is another person’s fresh, cool mountaintop.

  10. Tanny O'Haley says:

    “The real question of government versus private enterprise is argued on too philosophical and abstract a basis. Theoretically, planning may be good. But nobody has ever figured out the cause of government stupidity—and until they do (and find the cure), all ideal plans will fall into quicksand.”

    —Richard Feynman

    Perfect.

  11. Wayne Gage says:

    Lawmakers solution to all problems is making laws, mandates, initiatives and other equally failing tactics. They are never held accountable for failed efforts and the reduction of freedom is increasing. Land of the free….not anymore.

    When you’re holding a hammer, everything looks like a nail. The hammer lawmakers hold is their ability to pass laws.

  12. Jackie says:

    Very insightful and so true!

    Your summary of the crazy thinking of The Anointed is frightening because they really believe it:
    ◦The plan was good but people didn’t implement it correctly because they’re stupid.
    ◦The plan was undermined by people who opposed it because they’re evil.
    ◦The plan didn’t go far enough – we need to do same thing again only bigger

    This thinking and the Executive’s little “pen” has created a massive debt that is destroying our country. The economics aren’t even the worst part. Having a group who believes they are so anointed they must control the rest of us is immoral and is dragging our country down their moral depravity. It is bondage to accept that premise even when it may seem benevolent.

    Thank you for continually bringing attention to their crazy thinking on important issues. Hopefully more and more people will realize the need for the freedom to take personal responsibility for their own decisions.

    We can hope.

  13. Babs says:

    Its almost like common sense cant prevail in research. Nope its got to be replicated elsewhere to confirm or deny the findings. So some other goon can get his PhD in blither blather. My eyes rolled.so hard they about fell out my butt.

    • Walter Bushell says:

      Well all those studies that refute their abstract are actually doing us a favor, or rather the authors are. You see negative results are rarely published and to get the study published they have to have at least the abstract aligned with the PC dictum.

      So the studies do get published and the knowledge does get out into the wild, whereas if they made a truthful abstract the work would not be published.

  14. Is there any question that the farm policy put in place by Earl Butz has radically changed the American diet? Not for the better, obviously, but it clearly changed what we eat.

    Top-down policy changes can change buying behavior by changing the cost of different foods. And a small-scale test would be expected to fail, because the other foods would still be available at the next grocery store over. Changes like this can only work when they affect whole categories of foods at the same time.

    The fact that they’d pick (some of) the wrong foods to subsidize is a completely valid point, but as a tactical matter, it can “work”.

    Butz had an effect, but so did the Food Pyramid. The answer isn’t a better Grand Plan, it’s to cancel the current Grand Plans and stop making them.

  15. Dave says:

    Premise: People are fat and sick because they eat too much meat, don’t exercise, and have no access to fruits & vegetables.

    Grand Plan: Convince people that meat is bad for health, promote exercise, and subsidize fruits & vegetables.

    Results? Inconclusive. Need to conduct more studies at taxpayer expense.

    That ’bout sums it up, right?

    There’s a small detail missing from their equations, though. So long as modern diets center around highly subsidized wheat products and sugars no amount of fruits and vegetables will matter, even if they were practically free. It would be political suicide to go against Big Agriculture and Big Food, so this War on Obesity is bound to fail.

    A pessimistic view, but also the correct view. Hope lies in convincing people to ignore government dietary advice.

  16. Danny says:

    What would you suggest to fix things?

    I would suggest the government get out of the health-advice and food-subsidy business and stop trying to fix things, then let the dietary Wisdom of Crowds take over. We don’t need a better Grand Plan. We need to stop creating and imposing Grand Plans.

    • Patti says:

      I really like this idea, and that it ties into the speech you gave recently.

      I wonder if that could even happen. I wonder how to make it happen. I am just going to play for a second… Junk/fast food is prevalent in lower socioeconomic neighborhoods because of supply and demand. But is it available disproportionately in these neighborhoods because of supply and demand or are there other variables which cause people to want these food items more than a higher socioeconomic neighborhood. I don’t even know if that is true about junk/food availability because there are fat people in every socioeconomic strata.

      Would junk/fast food business need to vacate the area? If junk/fast food and the government fruit and vegetable program leave these neighborhoods what else would emerge for people without the economic means to buy cheap healthy food?

      I saw a study some years back on the prevalence of fast-food restaurants in Los Angeles, where city council busybodies wanted to ban any new fast-food restaurants in the poor areas where a disproportionate number of people are obese. What the study found was that there are just as many fast-food establishments per square mile in other areas of L.A. where obesity isn’t nearly as common.

      • Patti says:

        From your statement, I can conclude there are other variables in motion as to why obesity is disproportionate in poorer areas, and it has nothing to do with the availability of junk/fast food or vegetables/fruit. Then I think genetics, carbohydrate exposure, stress, lack of economic means, ethnicity, cohesive community support…

        And overall health-consciousness.

        • Jill says:

          I’d suggest if I may, also stress. Being poor and subject to other peope’s whims is highly stressful and also creates obesity in those who are susceptible.
          Stress add to the urge to eat junk foods, not cook and basically adopt the eating version of drinking a lot.

          I’m just speculating. I’m certainbly not the healthiest person in the world and partially that’s becuase I was never any good at handling stress. Other factors too I won’t go into here.
          But this vegetables/fruit thing about poor neighbourhoods I find very odd.
          They can’t all be obese, and if they are, isn’t that partly to do with the odd definition/measure of BMI in America? We have this here in Australia too.
          And what definition of poor are we talking about?
          No cooking facilities? – (in bad housing, totally possible)
          Cost of power, gas, water?
          Transport?
          Ill health?
          If they’re pushing the grain thing, obviously that will be part of the cause, but is it really bad or just a few pounds over being aesthetically perfect? ;)

          ec etc.

        • Jill says:

          Oh goodness, I posted before I read your post, and practically duplicated it! Sorry! :)

  17. Jim B. says:

    Maybe they’ll just start paying people to eat fruits and veggies so they can claim victory and how smart they are.

    Why not? It’s only one step away from subsidizing the magical fruits and vegetables.

    • Bret says:

      That reminds me of when Dr. Oliver said in Fat Head that research indicated that in order to get people to eat more leafy green vegetables, we would have to do exactly that: pay them.

      I want to say we are too smart to institute such a plan, but dumber ideas have been promulgated on Capitol Hill, and in state capitols nationwide.

    • Melissa Cline says:

      And they probably wouldn’t even be paying people to actually eat fruits and veggies (scary to think how they would verify that)–only to buy them.

  18. Firebird7478 says:

    I had a small discussion on Google + about this as it pertained to Obamacare and how eating healthy meals is out of the question for low income people. I pointed out that at Walmart, you can get 5 dozen eggs for $8. The person replied that it’s likely that those eggs are cage raised and contain antibiotics. When I asked him if he had to choose between eggs that are “likely” to contain antibiotics or a box of Mac and Cheese that you KNOW are loaded with crap, which would you choose? He never responded, so I answered for him…I’ll take my chances with the eggs.

    Bingo. Store-bought eggs aren’t bad for you. They’re just not as good for you.

  19. Steve G. says:

    C’mon Tom, the anointed did succeed with their food pyramid goals using economics. The gov. got more people to eat by recommending grains and subsidizing them. The gov. does not subsidize fruits or vegetables. So, theoretically, they could just take the subsidies from the grain farmers and give it to the fruit and veggie farmers since they will never get rid of subsidies. Think about it, the gov. is sudsidizing the production of junk food (which mostly come from grains and industrial seed oils). They just don’t want to take credit for the disaster, I mean its success. They are so humble.

    As Dr. Eric Oliver said when I interviewed him for Fat Head, research shows that in order to get people to eat more leafy green vegetables, we’d have to literally pay them to eat them.

    • Lori says:

      Someone in Fathead also mentioned that different people have different values. If some people value fattening food more than their waistline, why is that government’s business? Saving taxpayer money on health care isn’t an excuse. We could save money on agriculture subsidies, jailing harmless potheads, Obummer Care, lunch inspections, and a million other things.

  20. tony says:

    Government should be more proactive in what people should eat.

    Make food stamps only redeemable for fruits and vegetables, pay half of wages in fruits and vegetables and force neighborhood stores to carry only fruits and vegetables.

    If government pays half of all wages in fruits and vegetables, you’ll have send apples and broccoli in with your tax return.

    • Mark says:

      I’ve just finished reading “Eat Fat & Grow Slim” (1958, Richard Mackarness). Even half a century ago, there wasn’t a lot of compelling evidence that fruit & vegetables were fantastic for weight loss. And today? Well, not a lot seems to have changed.

      I think fruits and vegetables can help a bit with weight loss by providing nutrients the body craves — a need for nutrients is one of the factors that produces hunger. But they’re not a magic bullet, and certainly not a magic bullet in the context of a diet dominated by grains.

      • Jill says:

        Mackarnes wrote aterrific book on allergies – s Not All In the Mind (I think).

        He was apparently a very nice person and a damn good doctor!

  21. Bret says:

    I’m looking forward to seeing some comments from the big government apologists that inevitably materialize after such posts to lecture you for having what they call poor politics. Even though these folks are obviously aware that government is dead wrong about diet and health (they wouldn’t be reading this blog otherwise), they are okay with theft of others’ freedom when government is right (read to mean: when they think it is right).

    On a similar note, I have noticed a lot of bloggers, podcasters, and commenters in the low-carb/paleo orbit blame all the widespread diet/drug/health misinformation on big corporations seeking to protect their profits. It is annoying, because they are sorely misdiagnosing the cause of the problem. None of those big companies would exist, or at least would not be as large and powerful as they are, without all the government goodies that empowered them in the first place–the subsidies, the tight regulation, the federally funded research bias, etc. The corporate wings of Big Ag & Big Pharma are symptoms of the problem…the cause of the problem is the aforementioned government intervention, as well as perhaps an electorate lacking some much needed economic erudition.

    I’m always amused/surprised by people who will rant and rave (correctly) about how government screwed up on the corn and wheat subsidies, the Food Pyramid, the school lunch rules, etc., and yet still believe big government is the answer in so many other areas. They don’t seem to recognize that this is how government works.

    • Bret says:

      In these people’s eyes, it is paranoid and conspiracy-theorist to suggest that government should not run our lives…unless, of course, Republicans control the government.

      And, for a flip-side example, people who think we ought to use our military for defense only are childishly naive…unless, of course, Democrats control the government.

  22. desmond says:

    I see the direct relationship of income to vegetable consumption to income in my own home. I make the most money, and eat the most vegetables. My kids have no earned income, and eat the fewest vegetables. The question is: is there any causation? And if so, which way? If I force my kids eat enough vegetables, will they strike it rich so I can retire early? Certainly if I pay them to eat vegetables, their income will go up!

    Do the poor people who buy veggies from these new grocery stores start earning more money, and then move into better neighborhoods?

    Believe it or not, our local newspaper engaged in logic almost that twisted. Our county, which has the highest average income in Tennessee, also came out on top in health and longevity rankings, so the newspaper wondered if more poor people should live here so they’d be healthier. It must be the access to superior healthcare, ya see. You know, because it couldn’t just be that conscientious people who think long-term and plan ahead are more likely to work themselves into higher-paying jobs and also take better care of themselves.

  23. Desmond says:

    I can read the headline now: “Realtor Accused of Secretly Sponsoring Vegetable Stand as Means of Breaking Up Community”

    Heh-heh … sounds about right.

  24. Rae Ford says:

    And fat people will continue to consume fewer fruits and vegetables as long as they consume foods with addictive properties like sugar and franken-wheat.

  25. Serena says:

    As a genuine poor person, I can explain to the experts exactly why I crave fast food and not fresh food:
    1. Storage and prep space — scarcer than they probably think
    2. Tired. Must have energy. Now.
    3. Treats represent celebration and care, whereas simple fare represents fear and scarcity. Depressed = craving something to cheer me up.
    4. Portability. My workplaces rarely have a place to keep a homemade lunch, and the commute is a long walk or bus ride, often in the heat. Spillage and spoilage are big issues.
    5. Time. I often find myself with a few minutes to get out of a building, across a parking lot, across a boulevard, into a food place, to the head of the line, buy food and eat, and get back. A few minutes total. Cook? How?
    I can get fresh veggies. I like fresh veggies. But my life just doesn’t always have room for them.

  26. Chris says:

    Tom
    You accept that the govt can influence food choices (eg food pyramid) and food pricing/availability (subsidies etc) – in other words, the govt can affect what people eat.

    You also point out that ‘overall health-consciousness’ is a factor in unhealthy eating. In other words, people need further information and education (indeed, your site is all about your progress toward educating yourself and others).

    Thus there does appear to be a potential role for government in this equation – or a role for some form of education/information dissemination.

    So I’m wondering whether your view is:

    a. the govt shouldnt be involved at all, and we should let people do their own research. If they can’t/wont/do not understand that research, then thats their problem;

    b. the govt at the moment is making things worse (because it is giving out the wrong information) and therefore they shouldnt be involved unless and until they get the right information, but if they provide the correct advice then you wouldnt have an issue*; or

    c. the US govt is so distorted, with subsidies/interest groups/vested interests that it can never give good advice so (b) is never going to be achieved so the govt should just get out of the whole field.

    (*its off topic a bit, but I do feel that for many people, following the food pyramid will not make them obese. It will not help them lose weight, but it will prevent them gaining weight. If followed – which is often isnt. Low carb may be better for more people than the food pyramid.)

    c. would be closest to my opinion. As I pointed out in my most recent speech, before the government got involved in the health-advice business, we did fine relying on the Wisdom of Crowds to decide what we should eat. And as Weston A. Price pointed out in his book, it was wisdom passed down from generation to generation that told “primitive” people which foods kept them healthy.

  27. bill says:

    We’ve posted the first speaker, Dr. Eric Westman,
    from our Central Coast Nutrition Conference on
    Youtube:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BbwUWNg9M9U&feature=youtu.be

    Hope you like it.

  28. MikeC says:

    Tom,

    You and I are both professional software developers. I presume you’ve done test-driven-development, where you provide automated tests to ensure that your code does what you intend it to do. If the tests pass, your code can be said to be working properly. If your tests fail, then the code isn’t working and needs to be fixed.

    I propose we demand Test-Driven-Legislation. At the front of every law passed is a simple one paragraph statement describing its expected outcome, along with an objective test to determine its success or failure. If a law does not achieve its outcome within a reasonable amount of time, as indicated in its test, it is automatically repealed.

    I suppose we might see such a thing right after we see the paragraph at the beginning of each bill citing the constitutional authority under which it is proposed.

    Thomas Sowell pointed out in “Intellectuals and Society” that intellectuals get away with their wacky ideas partly because the results aren’t known for years or even decades, whereas in fields like engineering and software development, your design either works or it doesn’t. If it doesn’t, nobody cares how eloquently you can explain why it should work.

    If every law had to cite the Constitution to justify its reason to exist, we could probably skip that whole testing thing. Most of the stupid laws imposed by The Anointed would never pass the Constitution test in the first place.

  29. Jill says:

    Actually Tom I have a thought – I’ve noticed that since I went off wheat/grains my tastebuds have improved steadily and as I am able to really taste salads with a bit of good dressing and butter etc I happily eat them, in fact make sure to eat some.
    I think it might make a difference or is at least significant.

    I prefer meat and eggs and cheese if I don’t feel great – it seems to be something I can do that doesn’ take much effort (slight addictive element too) – but I do notice I digest better with vegetables but sometimes it’s more of a conscious choice to actually get them or choose them. Vegetables/salads seems to be a higher-order mental choice, but when I eat them I am invariably happy that I ate them even if I automatically go for protein with no veg sometimes.

  30. @Steve:

    “So, theoretically, they could just take the subsidies from the grain farmers and give it to the fruit and veggie farmers since they will never get rid of subsidies.”

    That can’t happen. Fruit and veggie farmers don’t need a new $1 million combine every couple of years, or need tons of fertilizer and pesticides every year. And real fruits and vegetables don’t need to be chemically treated and processed to be turned into something that will pass as edible.

    Keep in mind, it’s not really the grain farmers being subsidized, it’s the chemical, equipment, and processing companies.

    If you want to drastically improve Americans’ health and wealth in less than a year, just revoke the entire farm bill, which passes all of those subsidies through the farmer conduit on one side and then passes out food stamps so poor folks will keep buying the mac n’ cheese on the other side.

    Instead, as Tom points out, it’s a guaranteed bet that they’ll just keep making it bigger.

    It’s a crying shame, but hey — more bacon for us.

    Cheers

  31. Kate says:

    According to the food desert map, I live in a food desert. This is incorrect since there is a full service IGA grocery store with a decent selection of fresh fruits and veggies less than a mile away. It’s an easy walk, too.

    Or during the summer, there’s always the backyard garden. If summer ever gets here this year, that is.

    If you’re in a desert, that store with the fruits and vegetables might be a mirage.

  32. Patti says:

    Yikes you are going to not like this comment so I apologize in advance…but I have to add it… Government intervention in respect of food safety is important to our food supply. For example pasteurization of milk has reduced exposure to infections which were common place at the turn of the 20th century such as typhoid fever, bovine tuberculosis, diphtheria, and severe streptococcal infections. You even wrote about being apprehensive about making raw egg nog for your girls and you opted out for pasteurized eggs. So my point is I don’t think all government interventions are harmful to our health.

    Reference:
    Tauxe, R. V. (2001). Food safety and irradiation: Protecting the public from foodborne infections. Emerging Infectious Disease,7(3). Retrieved from http://wwwnc.cdc.gov/eid/article/7/7/pdfs/01-7706.pdf)

    As a small-government libertarian, I don’t view government inspection of the food supply as the worst example of needless government by any stretch. But I also doubt it’s necessary in a modern society. The most rigorous tests for consumer-product safety are conducted by Underwriters Laboratories, which is funded by the insurance industry, which in turn won’t provide liability insurance to manufacturers whose products don’t pass the UL tests. There’s no reason a analogous organization for food safety wouldn’t pop up in the absence of the FDA. And even the author of “Fast Food Nation” noted that McDonald’s food-safety standards are more rigorous than the FDA’s or USDA’s — because McDonald’s has a huge incentive not to poison its customers.

    • Patti says:

      I admire your response tremendously for two reasons. First, what you stated is enlightening my perception of business and government, and second, you did not bite my head off with criticism for stating an opinion.

      I only bite people’s heads off if they ask for it. Disagreeing with me or expressing another opinion respectfully isn’t asking for it by any means.

  33. @Patti

    “pasteurization of milk has reduced exposure to infections which were common place at the turn of the 20th century such as typhoid fever, bovine tuberculosis, diphtheria, and severe streptococcal infections.”

    Which diseases and outbreaks, of course, showed up in milk after dairy operators “industrialized” and started bringing cows into large enclosed confinement operations in the city, bunching them together in filthy conditions and feeding them crap.

    Instead of suing these operators out of existence and letting consumers get the message that they should be watching where their milk comes from, the gubmint stepped in with mandatory pasteurization.

    In other words, let “Big Milk” keep the disease-promoting conditions, just kill the pathogens down to an acceptable level. Plus, since every “solution” the government develops has to be “one size fits all,” and that size has to accommodate lots of bureaucrats and rules and paperwork, it helped kill off the small dairy/raw milk folks where it wasn’t banned outright.

    I’d recommend anyone interested in the raw/pasteurized milk history and debate check out the Weston A Price Foundation to get the real story.

    Cheers!

    • Bret says:

      I second that suggestion. Sally Fallon & company make it pretty clear that pasteurized & homogenized (i.e. processed) milk is not better for us than raw milk from a 100% grass-fed cow. If you’re comparing p&h milk to raw milk from cows raised in squalid barns with no sunlight, force-fed corn & cardboard, and had chalk added to its product…well, who the hell wants to drink that?

      Eat Fat, Lose Fat (Sally’s book coauthored with Dr. Mary Enig) tells the story of how pasteurization coincided with improvement in industrial cow conditions–the latter of which likely made most of the improvement in the milk, but the former got all the credit.

  34. Nick S says:

    Odd, the food deserts in my town (from http://www.ers.usda.gov/data-products/food-access-research-atlas/go-to-the-atlas.aspx) are, in my experience, not particularly desert-like…

    The biggest area is served by a number of small groceries and is less than a 3-min drive from a chain grocery store… Another area is mostly a high school’s large property and some undeveloped forest/farmland.

    Maybe the biggest problem with these studies is that they didn’t identify “food deserts” in the first place?

    I’m starting to think some of these deserts are mirages.

  35. John says:

    CNN is about a half-step above a celebrity gossip magazine at this point but for some reason I still go there occasionally. This morning had a great piece on how we’re all about to get a lot healthier.

    http://www.cnn.com/2014/03/19/health/time-cholesterol-statins/index.html

    13 million more people on statins! Could just have bacon and eggs and stop cramming sugar down your throat but powerful drugs are better!

    I’m preparing a post on exactly that subject.

  36. Kathryn says:

    Interestingly, the evil corporate fast food giant McDonalds has been offering Happy Meal substitutions of milk or juice instead of soda and green salad or apple slices instead of french fries for at least a decade where I live (in the San Francisco Bay area.) McDonalds apparently figured out that parents would buy more Happy Meals for their kids if McDonalds offered those healthier substitution choices, thus McDonalds — in its evil, profit-motivated way — began offering those substitution choices in order to sell more Happy Meals and make more money.

    My pediatrician gives me grief for how often we eat at fast food restaurants but I think a cheeseburger with milk and green salad/apple slices is pretty healthy. We are also big fans of getting a side of pintos and cheese with a scoop of rice in it from Taco Bell ($1.29) again with milk.

    People who blame fast food for the nation’s health issues need to stand in line at a grocery store and watch what most people buy. Most of it is carbage.

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