As a preface to my first ever blog post, I am not really familiar with the format of a blog, however I would encourage those reading this to do so more for content than style. That being said, my topics will discuss a more broad overview of some of the current underlying problems that I find with the healthcare systems in America and Maine over the next few blog posts. Many people only view government funded healthcare at its face value, but in all reality, we must consider many other factors when determining how a government healthcare system can be affected positively and, in almost all cases, negatively. My topic for today will be mostly covering the food industry in America and how its can have an influence in our healthcare system.
First and foremost, I would like to address the problem with America’s food industry. In a country which just passed a nationalized healthcare system, we are the fattest in the world. According to an article in the Huffington Post, our obesity rate is 33.8 percent, which is the highest among all other countries. This problem is likely one that will continue to grow as fast food industries continue to expand as well as income inequality and job loss increases. It is much easier and cheaper for a family living in poverty to pick something up from the dollar menu at a fast food restaurant after working a 12 hour shift than it is to go to the grocery store and prepare a healthy, home-cooked meal.
Another major problem with the food industry that has been growing more and more since Roosevelt’s New Deal is the industrialization of food in America. Agriculture and livestock have become a cash cow (literally), for large corporations and farming is no longer a family affair where hard work, and pride are poured into a farm’s produce. Now, we are producing and harvesting chickens full of artificial growth hormones in half the time it would have taken them to grow and develop to the proper harvesting size in the wild or at a natural farm. The cows that we eat come from “farms” (they more resemble factories though), where they are bred in incredibly close and highly unsanitary quarters. Their diet consists of feed that is cheaper than grass, clover, or any other natural element that should be included in a cow’s regular, wholesome, healthy diet. It is no wonder that there have been several recalls on beef products in the past few years when all we have to do is watch how these animals are bred, raised and brought to slaughter.
To now discuss the monopolization of the agricultural industry, we need look no further than corn. The monopolization by corporate take-overs of that industry have been astonishing to say the least in the past decade. Simply look at the legislation passed and recent cases involving the seed engineering company Monsanto. Because of the corporate lobbyist in Washington, this legislation “protects” the major companies genetically producing seed, specifically corn seed, from being used by non-Monsanto customers. In all reality however, this simply gives Monsanto the power to sue, and essentially close down, any farm (their non-corporate competition) found to be using any of their products for trademark infringement. This is particularly harmful to corn farmers in the Mid-West because they may be following all of the appropriate protocol to avoid such a lawsuit, but the pollen from corn, and thus Monsanto products, can still spread to other fields via the wind and air, where the farmers will still be found liable.
All of these factors are incredibly important to take into consideration when discussing government funded healthcare. Not only are these major food companies producing food that is harmful, or at the very least unhealthy, for people, they are being protected by the federal government (and in some cases even receiving subsidies and tax-breaks), which is giving them the power to continue their work. There is a double standard when looking at America’s food industry next to a nationalized healthcare system. While American’s are paying more in taxes to provide a service such as healthcare, the very same people that are passing healthcare legislation are also passing legislation helping these monopolized food industries. They are costing more and more to the American taxpayer as Americans continue to become more and more unhealthy and thus, require more healthcare services that are funded from the pockets of American citizens. This is a vicious political and industrial circle that the American taxpayers and, more importantly people, are trapped inside of with no solution in near sight under our current system of government.