Law For Food: The law affects what you eat. What you buy to eat affects the law.


Paying For It
14 September 2007, 6:23 pm
Filed under: Economics of Eating, Ethics of Eating, food politics, Subsidies, Taxation

The U.S. Food Policy Blog has a lot of good writing on how the U.S. government is subsidizing the advertising of pork and pork fat products. This sort of subsidy raises all sorts of questions about the role of tax dollars in the U.S. health and obesity crisis. Most interesting is that the National Pork Board is claiming, in their 2006 Annual Report, to have invented McDonald’s McRib sandwich.

For those who don’t know, the National Pork Board is also responsible for the “Pork: The Other White Meat” and is a semi-governmental entity responsible for promoting the U.S. pork industry, which in take-home terms means promoting consumption of pork. The National Pork Board is funded by what are called “checkoffs” which are legally-enforced mandatory charges (read: taxes) imposed upon producers. These checkoffs are collected by the National Pork Board and are used to promote the pork industry.

In other words, the Federal government has created a lobbying organization, and has funded that organization by taxing producers of an industry. Those taxes are no doubt passed on to the consumer.

This is one of the reasons Michael Pollan is right when he writes at the beginning of The Omnivore’s Dilemma that “eating is a political act.” The purchase of pork by a U.S. consumer, even sustainably and ethically raised pork, contributes to the funding of an organization whose interests may run entirely counter to one’s own, and indeed to the physical health of the nation.

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