UK Paper says obesity epidemic is Nixon’s fault — Farm policies made burgers bigger, fries fattier

The Guardian reports:

Why are we so fat?

The story begins in 1971. Richard Nixon was facing re-election. The Vietnam war was threatening his popularity at home, but just as big an issue with voters was the soaring cost of food. If Nixon was to survive, he needed food prices to go down, and that required getting a very powerful lobby on board – the farmers. Nixon appointed Earl Butz, an academic from the farming heartland of Indiana, to broker a compromise. Butz, an agriculture expert, had a radical plan that would transform the food we eat, and in doing so, the shape of the human race.

Butz pushed farmers into a new, industrial scale of production, and into farming one crop in particular: corn. US cattle were fattened by the immense increases in corn production. Burgers became bigger. Fries, fried in corn oil, became fattier. Corn became the engine for the massive surge in the quantities of cheaper food being supplied to American supermarkets: everything from cereals, to biscuits and flour found new uses for corn. As a result of Butz’s free-market reforms, American farmers, almost overnight, went from parochial small-holders to multimillionaire businessmen with a global market. One Indiana farmer believes that America could have won the cold war by simply starving the Russians of corn. But instead they chose to make money.

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  1. Nixon (Butz) made more food, people ate more and got fatter. I’m not sure how fries got fatter from corn oil since the previous oil of choice was lard. Then we drift off into knowingly making addictive foods. Where do they get these people? Is there a special test to become a journalist that excludes you if you score too high on the intelligence portion?

  2. It was Erlich’s fault. He kept going on about the population bomb thereby causing Nixon to cause U.S. farmers to cause better crops and U.S. restaurateurs to cause more attractive and energy dense food. Causation is fun, ain’t it?

  3. So we’re going to blame a successful food policy (one of few historically) for making food less expensive. H’m. That’s what it was for.
    Of course this was also at the time that Ehrlich and his ilk were saying that we’d lost the battle to provide enough food. To be fair, at one point even Robert Heinlein was falling for that, but he got over it.


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