by Marion Nestle
Jun 15 2011

U.S. food politics in action

For an instant tutorial in U.S. food politics, take a look at this Washington Post map of where agricultural subsidies go.

Presidents have been trying to get rid of subsidies for decades, but they also want to be reelected.  Will Obama succeed where others have failed?  We shall soon see.


  • Anthro
  • June 15, 2011
  • 8:59 am

The answer seems to be “no”. The Senate defeated a bill to stop ethanol subsidies yesterday.

I think there is something wrong with our much-cherished system of representation when Senators from small single-industry states can hold the rest of the country (and the majority of the population) hostage. I know this can work the other way round and that there is no easy solution, but we need to have the conversation.

  • MYoung
  • June 15, 2011
  • 9:41 am

They (politicians) are afraid of the conversation. It would mean a complete overhaul of the current system. That just is not going to happen. They are too cushey in their positions to risk change….

There’s a a rich vein of irony hiding in that graph. Remember, farm and ag subsidies were once a well-meant government program designed to “help” farmers.

They outlived their usefulness, but not their value as patronage for key supporters of congressional representatives in those states that get the biggest subsidies. Now they are driving distortions and unintended consequences in our food industry.

I bet even Marion would agree that *some* government programs can outlive their usefulness.

  • chuck
  • June 15, 2011
  • 12:46 pm

maybe crap food will become too expensive to buy. people will eat less in the end. seems like a decent solution to slash subsidies. a lot of the heavily subsidized foods are exported anyway. we have plenty of our own problems right now to world about fixing the rest of the worlds issues.

  • Fred
  • June 17, 2011
  • 2:16 am

Obama would give away his own mothers jewelery to get reelected. Cant figure that he would take away the farmers subsidy as long as they will vote for him. He hasnt listened to the people and continues to lean toward the Unions because he gets far more out of them than he does from the non Union folks. It is interesting how the love of money is the root of all evil. Oh no, was that from the Bible.

[...] U.S. food politics in action <<If you’re interested in the politics of why we eat so poorly, this map makes it pretty clear where the money is flowing and why change is hard. (Food Politics) [...]

… and this little piggy (organic farmers) has none!

[...] Interesting map of American Agricultural Subsidies. A.K.A. the government spends our tax dollars on junk food. HERE [...]

This definitely makes perfect sense to anyone.

Thats an all around amazingly written blog post.

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