“In 2004, University of Washington obesity researcher Adam Drewnowski discovered that consumers on a fixed budget can buy a lot more calories from processed foods and soft drinks than they can from fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. He found that a single dollar could purchase 1,200 calories of cookies or potato chips, but only 250 calories of carrots. One dollar could buy 875 calories of soft drink but only 170 calories of orange juice.” -Andrea Jezovit Cheap Twix
So it is cheaper to purchase a box of cookies, made from at least wheat, corn, and sugarcane, maybe chocolate, soy, and peanuts, than it is to buy a pack of carrots. That makes absolutely no sense to me that something thermodynamically more costly would be less expensive than something more efficient. In laymen’s terms, it takes more energy to grow the corn, wheat, maybe sugar, maybe chocolate & peanuts or whatever, to make cookies than it does to make carrots. Cookies have to be sourced from several plants, which are grown, processed, and made into things like maltodextrin or high fructose corn syrup or natural flavor or whatever. Not only that, but all of this must be shipped, and then blended together, baked, packaged (which requires more resources), and transported again, marketed perhaps, and then shelved. Carrots take some seeds, dirt, water, and (unfortunately) pesticides and fertilizers. They are picked, washed, packaged, and transported. How on earth can carrots be more expensive than cookies (by volume; of course it would take many carrots to equal the calories in a box of cookies)?
Processed food, and “the ethanol lobby” are so backwards. Were there not subsidies, a box of cookies would cost $10; carrots would be $1. People support ethanol production. Ethanol comes from corn. Corn comes from fertilizer. Fertilizer comes from oil. Oil comes from non-domestic sources. Ethanol is not energy independence, nor is it thermodynamically efficient. It is totally backwards. It is totally backwards that in a country with an obesity problem, we fund pharmaceutical companies and Genetically Modified Crop producers to make us cheap food that makes us sicker, especially the poor, and then further subsidize their bad eating habits and poor health through food stamps or medicaid! I don’t know where this stands in the political spectrum, but our food system here is ridiculous. I understand the need for growing crops more effectively and needing to feed a growing population. But to pay companies to make food that is bad for you, and then pay people to buy that food? Then, pay people to make drugs to “fix” people, sickened by that food? I know which middleman to cut out. I wish lawmakers would.
What can we do? Obviously buying locally and organic, but there are some scary nationwide trends out there!