A serious case of misplaced priorities

Alert! One of our eagle-eyed readers (Lambo) pointed out in the comments that the details of this chart are almost certainly broken, and that the PCRM may not be quite the upstanding source that we might have hoped for. I think the larger point probably still holds, but this graph needs to be taken with more salt than is dietarily good for you. See the comments for more.

Chart showing how messed up our food subsidies are

We are what we eat, and (all too often) we eat what’s cheap, and what’s cheap is what we subsidize.

Or, turning the thing around…

We subsidize unhealthy, environmentally irresponsible foods, so it’s hardly a surprise that, as a nation, we eat tons of the stuff.

To cleanse your pallet, I’ll leave you with a delicious organic mushroom from River Nene Farms

To become a gorgeous soup

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3 Responses to A serious case of misplaced priorities

  1. Lambo says:


    Just a comment on your source, the Physician’s Committee for Responsible Medicine. The site linked looked a little….I don’t know. It just seemed front-y. So I did a little digging, and the group (and its founder, Dr. Neal Barnard), are listed in a few areas on quackwatch.org, a site I’ve found to be pretty trustworthy over the years. A couple of links that I found thru the quackwatch site are

    I don’t mean to imply that the article you linked to is wrong, I don’t have the background in ag issues to say. I will say that I felt some of their statements were a bit disingenuous. Oh, and that “federal nutrition recommendation” food pyramid they have? Pure propaganda. The current pyramid plan for kids (since that’s what they’re talking about right before their image) can be found at

    I don’t think those ratios match too well – their ratio of vegetable and fruits, and grains compared to the rest seems way off.

  2. Desert Donkey says:

    … and if we eat enough of those subsidized cheeseburgers and pizza then we can add to the cost by taking a run through the medical complex, as I recently was forced to experience. The good news is that salad, vegetables and oatmeal taste very, very good when two of your arteries are lined with stainless steel mesh :-)

  3. Phi says:

    Lambo: Damn! That’s what I get for posting late in a hurry while tired. Well spotted! Thinking about it, the food pyramid they have here doesn’t really look right, at least in its details.

    I suspect that some sort of picture like this is still true, although thinking about it some more, I doubt it’s gonna be this extreme. It’s still the case that there’s a huge amount of subsidy for things that are environmentally unfortunate and not good for our health (as Desert Donkey attests). More research would be necessary to get a more accurate picture, though, and that ain’t happening right now.

    Thanks a ton for the correction. It takes a village to raise a blog…

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