Why your salad costs more than a Big Mac

I grew up in Iowa, so I know most of the arguments in favor of agricultural subsidies. It’s time to rethink the whole system. Our current scheme is bad for the planet and bad for our health. Corn (used to produce high fructose corn syrup) is subsidized. Factory-style meat production is subsidized. Healthy food and environmentally sustainable agriculture are not subsidized.

Here’s the whole problem in one graphic.

Go check out Economix to learn more. And put Food, Inc. in your Netflix queue.

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4 Responses

  1. John says:

    Unfortunately I don’t think you have a very conclusive argument. What you say may hold true for the USA, but in my experience a salad is more expensive than a Big Mac in many other countries too where McDonalds operates. Food subsidies – from the US government or any other source – don’t seem to be a common factor. For example, in Hong Kong. Thoughts ?

  2. Laura says:

    This is one reason why it drives me crazy when people assume that obesity in this country is simply a “lack of self-control.” There is that, to be sure, but ALSO a systemic problem and both need to be addressed.

    I don’t know if you saw the recent initiative spearheaded by Michelle Obama to reduce the number of “food deserts” in our country–areas where people do not have access to grocery stores and instead are forced to rely upon convenience stores for their food needs. I hadn’t heard about that issue before–or this one. Fix those two, and we could do a lot to improve the health of Americans, I’m thinking.

    Here’s a link to the discussion of food deserts:



  3. Jessica says:

    That is a great link Laura. Scott, the only thing I find surprising about this infographic is the fact that grains and “sugar, oil, starch” are not reversed in amount of subsidy. The way Americans trough-feed on snack foods, you would think more than 10.69% was being spent on it. Still, a staggering number. And, it is my understanding that Hong Kong has no agricultural industry as everything is imported (with the exception of fish) and therefore ALL food is more expensive.

  1. March 24, 2010

    […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Scott Gunn, marguerite kirchhoff and Peter Mayer, Peter Mayer. Peter Mayer said: RT @scottagunn: Blogging: Why your salad costs more than a Big Mac http://bit.ly/9ZFbmi […]

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