Politics and Food

Why the Promise of More Food no Longer Means Anything

Robert Buran Politics and Food  By Robert Buran

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Is there any relationship between politics and food?  Food is everywhere; we are surrounded by food. Wherever I go shopping they are selling food. If there is not real people selling food then it is vending machines selling food. Fast food is on every corner.  Is the government behind this?

When I was pumping gas yesterday the little window on the gas pump flashed to come on inside; they had a special on giant chili dogs. The gas station where I go looked more like a giant junk food store than a gas station. Even I who has never had to live with a food shortage can remember when gas stations sold only gas.

But it has not always been this way. You do not have to be as old as I to have heard the campaign slogan, “a chicken in every pot”. That was Herbert Hoover’s campaign politics of food Politics and Foodslogan when running against Al Smith in 1928. Although 1928 was a period of relative prosperity the political promise of food for everyone still meant something. Hoover won by a landslide.

Could our politicians of today learn something? What if Mitt Romney ran against Barack Obama with the campaign slogan “A lot of food in every refrigerator”? When thinking about this I can immediately start hearing the talk show jokes and see the political cartoons. It would be a political disaster today for any candidate to run on a platform that promised more food for everyone. And it would be even worse if one of the candidates were fat.

Today the promise of food for everyone would be meaningless. And furthermore it could be seen as mocking the economically deprived. Obesity is everywhere but it affects the poor more than the rich. The reason for that is that junk food is much cheaper than healthy food. The rich buy vegetables, the super rich buy organic vegetables and the poor buy potato chips. Junk food is cheap and junk food is available to everyone.

So what IS the relationship between politics and food today?  America is in peril and this availability of food is killing us. Two thirds of us are too fat and the cost of obesity approaches hundreds of billions of dollars per year. Obesity could end up breaking the American economy. It is not our enemies that could bring America down; it is our eating habits. And yet we are a long ways from having “Organic vegetables in every refrigerator”, as being an effective campaign slogan. Think about it.

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