Corn vs. Wheat

Discussion in 'Archive: The Senate Floor' started by Jedi Merkurian, Apr 21, 2010.

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  1. Jedi Merkurian Episode VII Thread-Reaper and Rumor Naysayer

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  2. Jabbadabbado Manager Emeritus

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    The last paragraph makes it clear that just getting rid of HFCS isn't going to cure our obesity problem. We have to find an integrated approach that makes healthy alternatives available to the children most at risk for obesity.

    I'm excited about Michelle Obama's childhood anti-obesity program, but the problem isn't going to be solved without taking on the big corporations that profit from making kids fat.

    If only greedy corporations were the only problem though. This is purely anecdotal, but I've seen it time and time again at the grocery store. I do some of my shopping at an urban chain store where a lot of different socioeconomic groups shop. The women ahead of me in line who pay for groceries with food stamps tend to be obese, and the stuff they throw on the conveyor belt for themselves and their kids is mind-numbingly wrongheaded. 8 packs of single serving "orange" drinks. Econosize bags of cheetos. It's a small-scale tragedy unfolding daily at the Safeway, and we all know it's multiplied hundreds of thousands of times around country.

    People talk about inner city families having no access to fresh produce. But even when they do, they still seem to get it wrong in virtually every case I've personally witnessed. Whole generations of people are growing up without any apparent reference point for healthy eating.

    With a large cardboard drum of plain instant oatmeal and a microwave, you can feed a family of four a healthy breakfast for more than a week at less than 10 cents a bowl. Or, you can buy 3 or 4 boxes of Lucky Charms at three times the price. The food choices Americans make, and not just the people on the low end of the socioeconomic ladder, are grotesque.
  3. shanerjedi Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Mar 17, 2010
    star 4
    Maybe we should tie food stamps to certain types of food if we do food stamps at all?

    Like a produce stamp and a dairy stamp, etc.

    But no Cheetos stamp. :p
  4. farraday Jedi Grand Master

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    Jan 27, 2000
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    Wider issue, which I'm sure you are aware of but I feel the need to underline anyways.
    While the issue of prepackaged "junk" food is definitely one that needs to be addressed in regards to low income obesity you have to also address time. While it is easier to imagine or focus on a situation where you just throw foods on a plate out of laziness, I think it is also important to be aware that food preparation time is, in a real way, leisure time.

    That is, it is limited by forces that force you to work long hours, that condense a day into short vignettes of leisure where time spent cooking is time away from doing other non work activities. This is of course especially important where all adults in the household work full time.

    Fast food or "junk" food, failure to address cost of time as well as cost of money and you're unlikely to get the results you want.
  5. Jabbadabbado Manager Emeritus

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    Scientists: EPA Distorting Biofuels Reality

    If true, this is a perfect example of regulatory capture of an agency by corporate interests, in this case agribusiness desperate to have corn-based ethanol classified as an alternate energy.

    If the science doesn't agree, put lobbying pressure on the agency to reinterpret the science.

    Coal and corn ethanol are weak spots for Obama. He is forced to pretend that clean coal and efficient corn fuel are imminent realities. And the result will be billions of dollars wasted.
  6. Darth_Yuthura Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Nov 7, 2007
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    I absolutely detest the idea that biofuels and ethanol are getting so much hype by the general public when the price of food is going up at the same time. Don't they realize they're related?

    No, of course not. If the price of corn weren't subsidized by the government all the time, they might actually realize how inefficient it is and how uneconomic the process is. At best, the total energy we could hope to get from ethanol would account for only 20% of our present energy demands. And that would come only if the entire nation's agricultural production of corn were used for fuel. I don't know about everyone here, but the opportunity cost of all that corn is just terrible compared to only substituting 20% of our energy needs. And that's not telling how sustainable our agricultural practices would be in 50 years or so.
  7. Lowbacca_1977 Force Ghost

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    Jun 28, 2006
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    If that's accurate, it's a reckless and disgusting attack on science with a political agenda.
  8. Darth_Yuthura Jedi Master

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    Nov 7, 2007
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    One of the benefits of the algae-based biofuel is that they are easier to convert to usable fuel, unaffected by the climate, and actually are best suited for absorbing the exhaust from smokestacks at a power plant. Not like they would make a significant reduction in emissions, but they would be ideal for such locations. Only issue is the technology is years behind ethanol.
  9. EECHUUTA Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Mar 19, 2007
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    It's not purely anecdotal. I work as a cashier in a grocery store, and I can't tell you how many times I've seen people buying junk food with food stamps, such as icecream, pizza, soda, and other stuff, and you are right, often times they are obese. you don't often see them buying plain meat or fruits/vegetables.
    Yaarr. My taxes are subsidizing someone's junk food habit. [face_frustrated]
  10. EECHUUTA Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Mar 19, 2007
    star 4
    Sorry for the double post, but I don't know how to add in content from differant posts.

    Ding ding ding! We have a winner! =D=
    Essentially, we are working too much. We cannot keep cramming activities into a day without them starting to crowd something important out. We work so much, and we crowd out food preparation. We work so much, we crowd out time for having enough sleep to be healthy.
    We work so much, and then have to spend oodles of money to stick our kids in day care, so we can work some more.

    Why do we work so much?
    I'll tell you why. It's because we can't stop wanting. We always want something bigger. We want something newer. We throw out something that shows wear, without repairing it or having it repaired. Then we have to work to make more money to buy the same exact item, only it's 'newer' and 'better.' We can't stop at wanting one car, we must have two. We don't want a small house, we want a big one. Wife doesn't like her ordinary normal-sized boobs, so we spend $20,000 on a procedure that makes them bigger.

    Then we have to pay extra homeowner taxes for that big house. We pay for all the new shipping and handling for that new item to come through the mail. We pay charges on the credit card, because we borrowed their money for that hot new item. We pay the additional medical bills besides the surgery itself, and the wife's painkillers because she had big bags of liquid silicone stuck behind her breasts. We have to work even more to pay for the additional costs.

    While some have to work lots of time for good reasons, often though when we doit, it's because it's to have 'stuff.'

    It's not bad to want a few things, but I think we are overdoing it a bit much now.
    I guess my basic message is, be content with what you have and live simply.
  11. anakin_girl Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Oct 8, 2000
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    You're right, however, it is possible to get pre-packaged food that is healthy and requires minimal to no cooking. What about canned soup? Pasta with jarred sauce? Frozen crock pot or skillet meals? Pre-packaged salad and a bottle of dressing?

    If I remember correctly, there are some education programs in place for people receiving government benefits; maybe one issue that should be addressed is how to make a healthy meal in 5-10 minutes.
  12. Jedi Merkurian Episode VII Thread-Reaper and Rumor Naysayer

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    Here's a question that puzzles me: Why does the U.S. gov't subsidize the corn industry instead of exporting more globally? Unless I'm missing something, boosting exports instead of pouring money into subsidies would kill two economic albatrosses with one stone.
  13. Darth_Yuthura Jedi Master

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    Nov 7, 2007
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    I think it's because corn has so little value that exporting it would be economically infeasible. Although I do agree it would make more sense to grow crops more or less for the purpose of export. We have more than enough agricultural land to sustain ourselves, so it would be in our best interests to use that to our advantage in a global economy.
  14. Jedi Merkurian Episode VII Thread-Reaper and Rumor Naysayer

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    So then, what about crops that are more profitable? Like, as the thread title indicates, wheat?
  15. anakin_girl Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Oct 8, 2000
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    I don't know if this is true, but I was told by a friend that Europeans don't eat corn at all. They don't consider it food fit for humans, only pigs.

    No one ever mentioned that to me in the month I spent in France, but I never ate any corn there either.

    But yeah, why did the FDR administration decide to subsidize corn in the first place? Was it considered a versatile crop then?
  16. Jabbadabbado Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Mar 19, 1999
    star 7
    That's actually true about many Europeans. I've grilled corn on the cob for European guests however and it's usually a hit.

    Small dairy farmers in Austria typically have a field where they plant corn exclusively for silage, so I think Austrians at least associate it primarily with cow fodder.

    You're right, however, it is possible to get pre-packaged food that is healthy and requires minimal to no cooking. What about canned soup? Pasta with jarred sauce? Frozen crock pot or skillet meals? Pre-packaged salad and a bottle of dressing?

    "People don't have time to cook" is pure nonsense. Frozen vegetables are healthy. Microwaving peas or peas and carrots takes 3 minutes. Fresh vegetables, not much different. It does not fundamentally take longer to put healthy food on the table.

    What gets lost I think is the time for family meals, which I think are hugely important for promoting good eating habits. Some kids are picky eaters and trying to figure out how to get them to eat the right foods can be challenging and time consuming. If you're not sitting down to eat meals with them, you lose an opportunity to model good eating habits and promote the right foods. I can easily see that happening to single parents, and it quickly becomes a disaster. A working single mother maybe doesn't have the time or energy to enforce good nutrition, particularly if she's not in the house when her children eat.
  17. farraday Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Jan 27, 2000
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    Sorry Jabba but I'm pretty sure you're wrong.

    There is a distinct lack of easy foods that don't fit into junk food-esque categories and those that do generally require time on the clean up end as well. A bag of chips or a can of soda is so very very disposable. Seriously, go through a grocery store one day and really look at the preparation time of junk food(asymptote to zero :p) and "good for you" food.
  18. anakin_girl Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Oct 8, 2000
    star 6
    I remember being in the grocery store once and seeing two women with a child about the same age as my younger son or a little younger (so, a toddler) and a cart literally full of Banquet chicken fingers. It made me sad. We don't do "family meals" that often due to my husband's work schedule but my kids are not allowed to only eat one food, all the time. They both have about 5-6 favorites but they are required to try a variety of foods.

    Now maybe the mom in question works two or three jobs. I understand that; I am better off financially and in terms of leisure time than a lot of parents. But I still think there has got to be a way to get healthy foods in people who are on a budget both with money and time. Yes, making a can of soup involves a pot or a bowl and the microwave, plus a spoon, and opening a bag of chips means throwing away the chips bag afterwards (the environmentalist in me is cringing at the waste that junk food causes there as well). But we have to convince people that it is worth it to take five minutes to wash that soup pot, or the five minutes of hassle to get a toddler to eat something besides fried processed chicken fingers; and we need to end the subsidies that cause HFCS to be put into soda instead of sugar.
  19. Jabbadabbado Manager Emeritus

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    Sorry Jabba but I'm pretty sure you're wrong.

    I get that a lot.

    I agree, nothing is easier than a bag of chips or the drive through at McDonald's, but I cook 3-4 times a week, and I can make a nutritious meal in 15 minutes if pressed.
  20. farraday Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Jan 27, 2000
    star 7
    Well then, I urge you to break down your 15 minute meal, because in my experience that is not the case.
  21. EECHUUTA Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Mar 19, 2007
    star 4
    What I think it is also, is that junk food is addicting.
    I read the book "An End to Overeating" on how fast food restaurant chains and junk food manufacturers pour research into this kind of stuff, how to pair just the right ingrediants in just the right amounts to make the food 'super-palatable.' Often foods are made in just a way to have a salty, creamy, or sweet appeal, and soft enough to swallow without much chewing.
    Because they are super-palatable, the person will associate those foods with pleasure, and this makes it very re-inforcing. Even lab animals when given this kind of stuff, will start to choose the nutritionally empty sugery, salty, creamy stuff over the more nutritionally complete (but bland in comparison) lab food.
    It is because the junk food is made to have all of the right 'hits' of salt, sugar and fat in just the right ways, to make it reinforcing and profitable.
  22. Espaldapalabras Force Ghost

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  23. Rogue_Ten Chosen One

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    That article misses the point. The persistence of world hunger is not rooted in yield. We already have the capacity to feed the entire world. This has been the case since the Green Revolution of the 1970s. The problem is a question of allocation and economics now.
  24. Darth_Yuthura Jedi Master

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    Nov 7, 2007
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    Then this pretty much boils down to eating habits. You don't exercise self-control and you get fat. The food you consume is addicting, so you find it more difficult to break the craving and you get a positive feedback loop leading to more obesity.

    In regards to fast preparation foods:

    I have to say that the reason greasy-fried foods and sugary crap is so quick to prepare is because nutritional value doesn't have to be preserved. You can something and it destroys the vitamins and minerals of vegetables. A bag of potato chips could be baked, but that only goes so far as to reduce the calories from fat. Higher-quality casseroles you buy have to be frozen and take a long time to thaw, even for a microwave oven. The simple fact is that people can easily adjust to higher-quality foods, but they simply have to plan ahead. They do take longer to prepare, but that's the sacrifice which comes from avoiding obesity.
  25. Espaldapalabras Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Aug 25, 2005
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    That article misses the point. The persistence of world hunger is not rooted in yield. We already have the capacity to feed the entire world. This has been the case since the Green Revolution of the 1970s. The problem is a question of allocation and economics now.

    If you had read it, then while yield is not a problem in Europe and North America, it IS a problem in the poorest parts of the world. Yes we do have the worldwide yields to move food from America to impoverished nations, but then you are ignoring the problems of dependence.

    I watched Food Inc. and various other things like that, and certainly if the wealthy want to pay more, then organic farms should exist to serve that need. I don't see anything wrong with factory farms in principle. Efficiency is important. Yes there are problem with government subsidies and patents on genes, but there is far too much moralizing when it comes to food. Corn subsidies are only good for corn farmers, and Monsanto is performing roles that require greater regulation. But I've raised chickens and eaten them, and it is far too much work, they poop a lot, and are so dumb I personally don't have any ethical concerns with keeping them in confined spaces.

    We need to stop sending food grown in America to places like Africa, and work to build up capacity there.

    I don't think there is anything wrong with corn itself, on the open market without distorting subsidies it wouldn't be grown as much, but is a very useful crop is creating a lot of calories.
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