FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Cash for Cheesedogs?

by MARTHA ROSENBERG

The recession is having one positive effect. The national cholesterol is going down.

More than half of Americans have cut back on meat, many becoming “recession-bred flexitarians,” says Gourmet magazine–people who use meat as a condiment not as a meal anchor.

Even the doyenne of taste and nutrition, Martha Stewart, broadcast a vegetarian Thanksgiving show last week.

A small drop in meat exerts big consequences on your health says Katherine Tallmadge of the American Dietetic Association because red meat is the “primary source of saturated fat, which can boost levels of bad LDL cholesterol and inflammation.”

It is no doubt the reason death from heart attacks goes down not up during recessions as Christopher Ruhm, an economist at the University of North Carolina, Greensboro reports.

Unfortunately, it also has a big effect on meat producers for whom the droves of flexitarians are equivalent to Atlanta and all its suburbs going vegetarian. And that’s before you consider the effect that the swine, sorry H1N1 virus has had on the pork industry.

To address the low demand emergency, the Washington DC-based National Association of State Departments of Agriculture (NASDA) has a kind of Cash for Clunkers plan.

Funded by American Recovery and Reinvestment Act revenues, its Meat the Need proposal would increase the amount that Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) recipients receive in food assistance if they use it for animal products. Recipients would either get a separate electronic benefits transfer (EBT) card or earmarked vouchers.

“Product purchases will quickly reduce the oversupply on the market while additional funding to SNAP for meat purchases will allow low-income families access to more nutritious meals,” says the NASDA proposal.

The government purchase program makes so much $ense to producers with unwanted products, 16 businesses expressed their support in Missouri alone including the Missouri Dairy Association, Missouri Dairy Growth Council, Missouri Cattlemen’s Association, Missouri Egg Council, Missouri Pork Association, The Poultry Federation and ag oriented bankers.

But there are some wrinkles.

What good is a temporary program if the changes Americans have made in what they eat, spend and drive become permanent after the recession? What if, after our austerity, a consuming, go-go lifestyle no longer appeals?

Is it really conscionable to dump products that the American Cancer Society, the American Heart Association and almost every other health group say to limit on poorer people because no one else will eat them? To boost the economy? Because they have less choice? Especially when the products include processed meat, known for its carcinogenic potential?

Aren’t people with lower incomes who receive food aid disproportionately plagued with diabetes, obesity, heart disease, metabolic disorders, high blood pressure, gallstones, fatty liver and obesity-related cancers already?

Is dumping food no one wants on the least fortunate any different than the nice venison hunters offered to food pantries two years ago except that it might be contaminated with the mad cow like Chronic Wasting Disease and lead? (The pantries refused it.)

Or the plan in Illinois to “harvest” the Canadian geese that live at so many subdivisions and corporate parks for the poor to eat? We’re not that hungry food pantry recipients said.

Doesn’t dumping high calorie, high fat, high cholesterol food undermine government wellness and school lunch programs which emphasize vegetables, fiber and exercise?

Finally isn’t the hallmark of a capitalist versus command economy demand? When it’s there you become a Bill Gates and when it’s not, an AOL?

Isn’t an oversupply of milk, pork or beef the market’s own rejection slip? As in 8 track tapes and pantyhose?

No NASDA’s Meat the Need program which it admits “promotes the policy of providing nutritious meat and dairy products to families while clearing excess inventory of those products,” is just an industry-first-public-second initiative which makes the poor into a client state.

Why not create a program called Light Their Need giving cigarette vouchers to the poor? Tobacco farmers probably need assistance too.

MARTHA ROSENBERG can be reached at: martharosenberg@sbcglobal.net

 

Martha Rosenberg is an investigative health reporter. She is the author of  Born With A Junk Food Deficiency: How Flaks, Quacks and Hacks Pimp The Public Health (Prometheus).

More articles by:

CounterPunch Magazine

minimag-edit

bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550

zen economics

Weekend Edition
April 28, 2017
Friday - Sunday
Paul Street
Slandering Populism: a Chilling Media Habit
Andrew Levine
Why I Fear and Loathe Trump Even More Now Than On Election Day
Jeffrey St. Clair
Mountain of Tears: the Vanishing Glaciers of the Pacific Northwest
Philippe Marlière
The Neoliberal or the Fascist? What Should French Progressives Do?
Conn Hallinan
America’s New Nuclear Missile Endangers the World
Peter Linebaugh
Omnia Sunt Communia: May Day 2017
Vijay Prashad
Reckless in the White House
Brian Cloughley
Who Benefits From Prolonged Warfare?
Kathy Kelly
The Shame of Killing Innocent People
Ron Jacobs
Hate Speech as Free Speech: How Does That Work, Exactly?
Andre Vltchek
Middle Eastern Surgeon Speaks About “Ecology of War”
Matt Rubenstein
Which Witch Hunt? Liberal Disanalogies
Sami Awad - Yoav Litvin - Rabbi Lynn Gottlieb
Never Give Up: Nonviolent Civilian Resistance, Healing and Active Hope in the Holyland
Pete Dolack
Tribunal Finds Monsanto an Abuser of Human Rights and Environment
Christopher Ketcham
The Coyote Hunt
Mike Whitney
Putin’s New World Order
Ramzy Baroud
Palestinian, Jewish Voices Must Jointly Challenge Israel’s Past
Ralph Nader
Trump’s 100 Days of Rage and Rapacity
Harvey Wasserman
Marine Le Pen Is a Fascist—Not a ‘Right-Wing Populist,’ Which Is a Contradiction in Terms
William Hawes
World War Whatever
John Stanton
War With North Korea: No Joke
Jim Goodman
NAFTA Needs to be Replaced, Not Renegotiated
Murray Dobbin
What is the Antidote to Trumpism?
Louis Proyect
Left Power in an Age of Capitalist Decay
Medea Benjamin
Women Beware: Saudi Arabia Charged with Shaping Global Standards for Women’s Equality
Rev. William Alberts
Selling Spiritual Care
Peter Lee
Invasion of the Pretty People, Kamala Harris Edition
Cal Winslow
A Special Obscenity: “Guernica” Today
Binoy Kampmark
Turkey’s Kurdish Agenda
Guillermo R. Gil
The Senator Visits Río Piedras
Jeff Mackler
Mumia Abu-Jamal Fights for a New Trial and Freedom 
Cesar Chelala
The Responsibility of Rich Countries in Yemen’s Crisis
Leslie Watson Malachi
Women’s Health is on the Chopping Block, Again
Basav Sen
The Coal Industry is a Job Killer
Judith Bello
Rojava, a Popular Imperial Project
Robert Koehler
A Public Plan for Peace
Sam Pizzigati
The Insider Who Blew the Whistle on Corporate Greed
Jesse Jackson
Jeff Sessions is Rolling Back Basic Rights
Nyla Ali Khan
There Has to be a Way Out of the Labyrinth
Rivera Sun
Blind Slogans and Shallow Greatness
Michael J. Sainato
Trump Scales Back Antiquities Act, Which Helped to Create National Parks
Stu Harrison
Under Duterte, Filipino Youth Struggle for Real Change
Martin Billheimer
Balm for Goat’s Milk
Stephen Martin
Spooky Cookies and Algorithmic Steps Dystopian
Michael Doliner
Thank You Note
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail