The link above got me thinking about the troubled state of farming in the U.S. While my knowledge of U.S. farming is admittedly cursory, I’m pretty certain the systems in place are overwhelmingly screwed up as they reward one thing alone, size. Subsidies guarantee that the larger a farm becomes, the greater its rewards. This distorts production by removing market demand from the picture. Rather than creating positive incentives (hard work) for farmers to produce a variety of nutritious foods, we give them perverse incentives (easy work) to produce a handful of crops which deliver questionable benefits. Industrial farms chase these incentives which align with corporate America’s short-term profit agenda. This big bank take little bank approach has led us to a point where a few companies control much of our food system. We’ve literally put all of our eggs in just a few baskets, which puts them all at greater risk of spreading toxins and disease. (I’ll tackle this part of our food chain at length in a future post.) Producing these highly subsidized food products creates incentives for those with limited budgets to consume these foods. Subsidizing these crops makes them more affordable for consumers which creates a downstream “tax” as they are typically unhealthy. The prevalence of low-cost foods with little or no nutritional value creates an environment which is encourages obesity and it’s related diseases, which in turn puts a tax on our health care system. (Another broken system which I’ll tackle later.) The documentaries “King Corn” and “Food, Inc.” are excellent primers on this failed system. I highly recommend checking out both of them. Food, Inc. has a few spots that will be tough for animal lovers, but in my opinion, burying your head in the sand is tantamount to compliance. Aside from the ethical and personal health reasons, ignoring the truth means accepting the continued rise of health care costs as we all continue to subsidize these problems. Give these films a chance and I assure you you’ll start making different choices when it comes to food. The better informed decisions you will make will improve your health and that of those around you, while helping us all move towards a more sustainable future.