Five a Day?

Five a Day, my big fat unhealthy butt!

Every so often I get the bug to eat more healthily, sometimes even thinking it is really time to go vegetarian. So with the best of intentions I head on down to the supermarket (it doesn't matter which one, in this context they are all the same) and what do I find?

Nectarines that are hard as a rock. Peaches that bear more resemblance to tennis balls than to the sweet, juicy, delectable fruit that put Georgia on the map. And the tomatoes — jeez, don't even get me started on the tomatoes! It really is sad that so much of the fresh produce in this country is absolutely inedible. And that includes even the times when things are IN season! The tomatoes in August are just as bad now as the ones in February. I can get some respite from the farmers market, but not much.

But wait — it gets worse!

So, I am standing there holding a wax globe that looks like a tomato, but I know is not going to taste like one. In fact, it will taste more like a superball. The stupid thing costs two dollars a pound! So gently putting the delicate tomato (ha!) down, I wander down the aisle to the meat case. Boneless, skinless chicken breasts — sometimes fresh, sometimes frozen — are on sale for the the same two dollars a pound! "How can this be?" I muse. You have to feed plants to chickens, and then pluck 'em, cut 'em up and take the bones out. How can it still be the same price as a plant? And something really healthy like hamburger or pork steaks are even less! And take even more to grow them!

But wait! It gets even worse!

Hefting that tomato I notice that because it has the density (and texture and taste) of granite, it probably weighs half a pound or so. A dollar for this wonderful culinary experience. Or I could wander across the street and for the same dollar get me a hot, greasy double cheeseburger. Mmmmm… grease! How can they feed the cow, cook it, wrap and serve it for the same price as a tomato? What gives?

Well, it is not a question of free market economics, that is for sure. Basically farmers of animals and the grains that feed them rake in a huge portion of farm subsidies and farmers of tomatoes, broccoli and other veggies "of color" don't get diddley.

Yet another good reason to head on down to the farmers' market tomorrow and Saturday. But the fact of the matter is even if you give your money directly to those veggie growers you are still forking over your hard earned tax dollars so that artery clogging cheeseburgers will be cheaper than cauliflower. I hate to agree with the Heritage Foundation, but it is past time to overhaul or eliminate our farm subsidy programs. OK, not eliminate. But it would be cheaper in the long run to subsidize healthy foods than to subsidize our junk food industries and then pay again in our health care system.


3 responses to “Five a Day?

  1. I remember I took this great Rural Sociology class down in Madison where the professor was demonstrated the toll that mechanization and large farms have taken on produce. He took a large tomato grown at home and threw it against the wall… of course it went smoosh. The next tomato he threw was from the store.. the thing bounced! That one demostration said it all.


  2. Surprised it didn’t break the wall. 🙂

  3. The thing is this…regardless of mechinization or whatever forces we indicate…were consuming so many levels of carbon based nightmare its unbelievable. I think for me Rachel Carsons book SILENT SPRING was a tremendous indicator in this regard.

    I think the issue is not vegetarian (thought I am one), the issue is making responsible choices for the items consumed.

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