Earl Butz, former Secretary of Agriculture in the Nixon administration, died last week at the age of 98. He had a long and varied career, but in the context of food systems he is famous for having revolutionized U.S. agricultural policy. Instead of paying farmers not to produce food, he encouraged farmers to produce as much food as possible. They did, and indeed produced so much corn that new uses had to be found for it. Voila! High fructose corn syrup! The movie, King Corn, includes an interview with Mr. Butz. He was proud of having so greatly increased U.S. food production. Indeed, the number of calories in the U.S. food supply increased from about 3,200 per day in the mid-1970s to the present 3,900 per day, with all the consequences that I discuss in Food Politics and in What to Eat. His passing marks the end of an era.
Next public appearance
This will be the closing keynote to the 7th Biennial Childhood Obesity Conference, sponsored by the California Department of Public Health, UC Berkeley, the Atkins Center for Weight and Health, the California Department of Education, Kaiser Permanente, and the California Endowment.
It’s at about 11:30 a.m. in the Long Beach Convention Center.