Wednesday, September 06, 2006

I shoulda been a farmer

Wilford Brimley, as Pop Fisher in The Natural, watches his New York Knights lose another one and laments, "I shoulda been a farmer."

The film takes place in 1939, when many – probably most – folks grew their own food. Agribusinesses developed in the mid-20th century, along with subdivisions, and fast-food restaurants.


The 10th International Congress on Obesity is meeting in Sydney, Australia, this week. Philip James, International Obesity Taskforce chairman, said in his remarks that "existing farm policies, particularly agricultural subsidies in the European Union and U.S., had been damaging people's health for decades." You can read more here.

Who, other than agriculture lobbyists, would argue with this? Supply-and-demand governs economics. If the supply of high-fructose corn syrup-laced products diminished, or if the price was so high as to make those products an occasional treat instead of an everyday staple, wouldn't demand go down?

But of course the market feeds the demand. As long as consumers can buy a box of chewy apple-cinnamon bars for $1.29, they're not going to be waltzing down the produce aisle to pick up a bag of apples that cost more than three bucks.

Well, except for you and me.

The sun is peeking over the mountains to the east, and I think I'll be able to quit bitching about the treadmill. Me and my ass will be taking it outside again. Booyah! Yesterday I lifted weights, did 20 minutes on the rowing machine and did about a 40-minute yoga-based PushTV session. [I guess my rest days are not really rest days; they're just rest-from-running days.]

At the beginning of the summer, I won three months of Push DVDs from RenĂ©e, and finally took a look at the first one yesterday. As you regular readers know, I'm not much of a DVD-workout kinda girl, but it's good to have options for inclement weather, and I'm feeling the burn this morning. So I'd have to give it a thumbs-up for effective training. If you like classes or need guidance in proper technique – and who doesn't? – you might want to do a three-month trial.

Okay, I got a late start today, after staying up until midnight watching season-premieres of House and Nip/Tuck. Deliciously dark prime-time television ... better than chocolate!


Lise said...

couldn't get into your comments yesterday, about "real" vs. treadmill running. apart from sharing your experience with treadmills and sore shins, I recall a doctor of mine endorsing any kind of motion outdoors over treadmills, XC machines, ellipticals and so on, because (he felt) the benefits of being outdoors, in real weather, were greater for the entire body. that of course doesn't speak to the calorie burning issue, but it's worth the mention.

Greta said...

I disagree with your comment that most people grew their own food in 1939. By 1939, and much earlier, probably back to the days of the industrial revolution, most people lived in cities and towns and those folks did not grow their own food. My parents, their parents, and my Great Grandparents all were city dwellers so as far back as I know in my own family nobody grew food extending to the late 1800's and probably earlier. Even in the Middle Ages when "most people" worked on farms, the tasks were specialized so some people plowed, planted and harvested while others ground the grain and others baked the bread. Before the advent of huge mechanized farms there were smaller family-run farms.

However, I agree that farm subsidies have warped the pricing of food making some foods unnaturally low in cost relative to other sometimes healthier foods. It always strikes me that fruits and vegetables are unnaturally high in cost.

I don't know how much "big agriculture" has made the offerings in our stores unhealthy but certainly big food manufacturers have done that. Remember the 1950's excitment of Tang (orange flavored drink made from 'crystals' just like the astronouts drank) and Fizzies tablets (make it yourself beverages created by popping a tablet into a glass of water)? That was the start of junk food. About the same time the cereal industry branched out from the traditional offerings of oatmeal, puffed rice and puffed wheat, corn flakes, and shredded wheat. Does anyone else remember the introduction of Frosted Flakes and Charms and Life cereals? I remember when all you could serve as party snack food was pretzels or potato chips or made-at-home Chex Mix. Then they came out with Cheetos and everyone was atwitter with delight. It did not occur to me at that point (as a child) that any of that "great" manufactured food might be unhealthy. I remember the first "TV Dinner". Well the food industry has been going farther and farther down that road and they worry about one thing and one thing only, and that is TASTE. If it tastes good then they make it and only if the government stops them will they stop making something because it's bad for us.

We are largely left to make healthy selections ourselves and protect ourselves and out families from the unhealthy offerings.

Debbi said...

Greta, I shouldn't have said "most" folks grew their own food in the late '30s. But many did – 21 percent of the population – and that's 10 times the current farm labor force. These statistics are from this website:
There's a lot of information on government policies there – I wish I had more time to study it.
Thanks, as always, for your thoughtful comment!