Food Subsidy Inverse of Food Pyramid
April 29, 2010 2:23 PM   Subscribe

Recently, I came across an online article with a diagram which sketched out how US food subsidies are practically an inverse of the food pyramid — that the items we're supposed to be consuming the least of (fats, sweets, and meats) get the most support from the gov't. I thought this was at, but I can't find it there. Does anyone know where I could find this article/graphic online?
posted by silusGROK to Food & Drink (6 answers total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: This?
posted by Perplexity at 2:26 PM on April 29, 2010 [1 favorite]

Seconding Perplexity.

Here's the link to
posted by woolylambkin at 2:37 PM on April 29, 2010

If only the "what we're supposed to be eating" pyramid were right of its own accord. Gary Taubes' "Good Calories, Bad Calories" (and many other recent articles, but GCBC primarily) is a great resource for understanding how inexact food science has been, how little we know, and how much of what we are "certain" about is wrong.

("We" = USDA, common knowledge, etc.)

Not entirely germane but I think important to consider before having a gut reaction to the inverse pyramids.
posted by johndavi at 3:22 PM on April 29, 2010 [1 favorite]

If that's what you saw, then it was wrong. By far the largest American food subsidy is for corn, amounting to more than $56 billion between 1995 and 2006.

Everything else pales by comparison.
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 4:01 PM on April 29, 2010 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Thanks, everyone! That's the image I recall.

@johndavi: it is important to recall how inexact our understanding of food is.

@Chocolate Pickle: I'm guessing that — assuming the EWG's numbers are correct, and that corn received the largest direct subsidy — the pyramids reflect direct and indirect subsidies (such as the highly subsidized fees ranchers pay to pasture their herds on public lands).
posted by silusGROK at 4:32 PM on April 29, 2010

EWG's numbers are based on raw data received from the US Government. They used FOIA requests to get it all. That's simply the best numbers available.

That chart says that about three quarters of subsidies go for meat and dairy, and only 13% to grain, about 5.6:1.

EWG says $56 billion for corn, $22 billion for wheat, $14 billion for soy, $11 billion for rice between 1995 and 2006. If the chart's ratios are right, then meat and dairy must have gotten in the range of half a trillion dollars worth of subsidies during that period -- and that's ludicrous.
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 6:14 PM on April 29, 2010

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