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shopping math

Ever wonder why a Big Mac costs less than a salad?

The foods the US government chooses to subsidize might have a lot to do with it. (Yes, this picture is using an outdated form of the food pyramid for comparison. The point still stands.)

Hat tip to Essays & Effluvia at the BigPicture blog
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nan0_frog November 15th, 2007
That's sad.. veggies are so tasty :(
It's funny, it seems like the less money you have the healthier you tend to eat according to that pyramid.. since meat is expencive and veggies and grains are cheaper...

mewilliamson November 15th, 2007
other way around. the first pyramid indicates the amounts the government pays for these things to be created. so, theoretically meat would be cheaper as the government is paying for it. its not a very good comparison though, as it doesn't take overall amount produced and base cost differences for different pieces into consideration.

nan0_frog November 15th, 2007
Darn.. read it wrong. I take that back! Well... they don't seem to subsidize meat that much if that's the case.. it's expensive! Not that meat is a necessary part of life anyhow..

anitra November 15th, 2007
Meat would be a whole lot more expensive if it wasn't subsidized so heavily. Part of the subsidies that go in to meat are actually subsidies for corn, which is used for feed.

People used to eat meat as an occasional treat, or a very small portion as part of a meal, rather than the meat-at-every-meal expectation most of the US has now.

lil_cherub November 15th, 2007
The other aspect which is being missed is the concept of supply and demand. Farmers can produce a huge quantity of grain because they can plant a more then once a season. As a result the US has a very large supply of grains in silos, to the point where some farmers are paid to not plant crops and run the fields baron.

Cattle farmers don't have that same turn around unless they are selling veal. Same for chicken farmers, unless they are selling eggs. It takes longer to get meat, eggs & cheese to market.

enchantedautumn November 15th, 2007
That's one of the reasons I support Ron Paul for president. He's the only candidate who is truly dedicated to ending corporate welfare.

anitra November 15th, 2007
I understand why other politicians don't stand up against farm subsidies - they want to stay in office, and the farm lobby is huge.

It's too bad, because I'd like to buy more locally-produced and/or natural foods (for example - no high fructose corn syrup); but I can't afford to spend my time looking for it. And the supermarkets can't afford to buy more expensive local food and lose their competitive edge.

bradsour November 16th, 2007
I actually noticed this past summer that the Big Y which is right around the corner from me was using local farms for some of their produce and they were including those veggies in with their normal sales. Like their 10 cents a piece sale. I was surprised and happy to see it.

anitra November 16th, 2007
I know that in the area where I grew up, the supermarkets bought the "cash crop" produce locally when it was in season - things like apples, peaches, and pears. Local supermarket chains (like Wegmans in my hometown, and Big Y in Worcester) can do this more easily than the big chains like Stop N Shop or Shaws.

I'd be willing to bet that the closest supermarket to me - Park N Shop - buys the majority of its produce locally.

But I'd like to see more than just produce - meat, dairy products, etc. I have no idea where most of those come from. My guess is that most meat comes from the Midwest.

bradsour November 16th, 2007
I believe that a lot of our dairy does from from this area already. I'm not sure how local you are wanting it to be, but I would say that Vermont, New Hampshire and Massachusetts are big contributors to our Dairy products. Hood is based out of Lynn Mass. and Garelick Farms is also from Mass. As far as meats go they could be raised locally but I think the farms in Texas have cheaper land and more grazing area for the cattle.

One possibility would be for you to skip the supermarket all together and go right to the farmer. I bet one cow and one pig a year would last you the year or at least a good portion of the year. As far as chickens and turkeys though, I don't know if it'd be cost efficient.

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