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America Has Subsidized Itself Sick


Several years ago I had a meeting with Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn, author of Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease.

Dr. Esselstyn was the first person I had ever heard indict our federal government for their imbalanced subsidization of animal protein. It's clear that Dr. Esselstyn has a strong bias towards plant-based eating as a means of preventing and reversing heart disease. In fact, he wrote the book. My own father-in-law is healthy living proof of Dr. Esselstyn's claims. So I have a bias built on gratitude.

But Esselstyn's assertion was broader and not just in defense of his own position. The chart above tells the story. The most recent My Plate recommendations issued by the USDA don't exactly jive with current federal food subsidies. This lack of mirroring is precisely why cheeseburgers are cheaper than chickpeas. And why does that matter? The non-profit Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM) points out: "More than 60 percent of the deaths in the United States are caused by heart disease, cancer, and other diet-related diseases. Approximately 68 percent of Americans are overweight or obese. In 2008, the direct medical costs associated with obesity added up to $147 billion."

Now if the availability of cheap meat and dairy has any correlation to the current state of American health, then it would seem we've subsidized ourselves sick. The recent My Plate would support this notion, if indirectly. Do you think we would have a more healthy populace if the feds spent our money subsidizing their own dietary guidelines?

We'd love your two cents to subsidize our comment section.


By Adam Butler



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Reader Comments (7)

It will eventually be fully acknowledged that heart disease is coming from all the rancid fats (not to be confused from the 'good' fats) in our foods. We must be personally responsible for our own health and the health of the planet!


June 23, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterIN-B-TWEEN

Time to start subsidizing local fresh fruit and vegetables.

In New Zealand my home land the of the two major political parties is looking to remove a goods and services tax on fresh fruit and vegetables to make them more affordable - which is a start I guess. I really like initiatives like FOOD/Corps and the FOOD Trust - Pennsylvania Fresh Food Financing Initiative, that I am reading about in the U.S.

I would be interested to see a graph like that for New Zealand. Also a country with tremendous growing ability, but focused so much on exports of meat, and not first and foremost feeding a healthy nation.

It is awesome the focus Fearless is taking on Food / Food Systems. I look forward to it continuing....

June 23, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterTim Gregory

Oh my, a LOT of meat and dairy products and LESS of veggies, this is then one obvious cause of people who suffers from obesity nowadays leading to a LOT of different other illnesses, associated with it. Too sad and bad to find out! buy phentermine

July 5, 2011 | Unregistered Commenterbuy phentermine

According to several articles, books & documentaries I have viewed, an interesting fact appears.
When the cattle industry instituted corn as a primary source of food for their beef & the use of growth hormones, studies indicate health issues such as allergies, cancers, cardiac disease, etc. began to surface in alarming numbers.
While this simple act provided an increase in the need from corn farmers, & a cheaper food for cattle, it also increased the need for healthcare. THEN...the formulation of products such as high-fructose corn syrup being added to literally everything.

People comment on a daily basis about how girls are maturing much faster than usual & how scientist can't keep up with naming new strains of disease. is clear. As the old food pyramid used to state, we are what we eat.

I viewed The City of Dallas, Cease the Grease program's website & was grossed out by the effects of what happens to our pipe system when animal fats are poured down the drain. Of course the first thing I associated it with was this is EXACTLY how our arteries look because of eating the same fat. And we wonder why Stroke, Heart Attacks, High Blood Pressure / Cholesterol, & Kidney Disease is rampant.

Thanks for providing awareness. I worked as a nurse for over 25 years & saw the results of diet induced diseases. I am now on the flip side in prevention with health /wellness training. I have totally changed my eating lifestyle as has my daughter & her family. My "soapbox" is natural, all-organic, locally-produced, & preservative free, as much as possible. It doesn't cost me more. The value of long term prevention is priceless.

July 12, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterGeneva Murphy

When I look at this, my reaction is that the real problem is the lack of subsidy for fruit and veggies, and the amount of subsidies for grains and sugar. If there is a fixed amount of subsidy money, I'd agree that animal proteins may be over-represented, but in my opinion the grains & sugar should go first. Animal proteins are good for us. :)

July 13, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterDave

This is my first time i visit here. I found so many interesting stuff in your blog especially its discussion, iwc spitfire
if can more pictures will be better. From the tons of comments on your articles, I guess I am not the only one having all the enjoyment here! keep up the good work. Replica Breitling

July 25, 2011 | Unregistered Commenterabbyabbie

Was just discussing with a friend why it's not surprise that the most impoverished states wrestle with the worst obesity. It's expensive to buy fresh veggies, but oh so cheap to pick up a cheeseburger for the family.

Feeding subsidized corn to cows is not only unwise, it's unhealthy. The facts are obvious for the cows and the residual effects are becoming more and more apparent in humans. I love the idea of meatless mondays (even tho most people should go much farther) because our voice in this country is where our dollar is. Don't support dangerous meat-packing industry standards, and don't buy into it.

July 29, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterKatherine Peach

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