Our current food system is literally breaking our hearts–and it’s also breaking the bank. Investing in healthy food instead of subsidizing processed junk foods will save lives and dollars.
We’ve all heard that an apple a day keeps the doctor away.
But what if I told you that same apple could save hundreds of thousands of lives and billions of dollars every year?
You see, 725,000 Americans die each year of coronary heart disease, heart failure and stroke.
This costs American families and taxpayers 94 billion dollars in medical costs treating those diseases.
But what can our humble apple do about this?
The latest scientific research shows that if Americans ate just one more serving of fruit or vegetables a day, we would prevent 30,000 premature deaths each and every year, just from heart diseases and strokes, and we’d save 5 billion dollars in national medical costs related to those diseases. That’s enough to buy a year’s worth of groceries for 1.8 million Americans. Now, let’s back this up for a moment and see what happens if the apple called in some friends…and Americans started eating enough fruits and vegetables to meet the federal government’s dietary recommendations.
We could prevent 127,000 deaths each year. That’s about the population of a city like Topeka, Kansas. Which would save a whopping 17 billion dollars annually in national medical costs related to stroke and heart disease. In fact, economists say that people living their full lives, enjoying their families in full health, is worth an astounding 11 Trillion dollars. Our apple doesn’t seem so humble anymore.
But here’s the problem.
Current U.S. food policy stacks the deck in favor of junk foods while making healthy foods like fruits and vegetables more expensive.
The U.S. Government spends billions of dollars subsidizing farmers who grow corn and soybeans, which are used to make unhealthy processed foods. At the same time, government policies put up roadblocks that make it harder for farmers who want to grow the fruits and vegetables we need. In the end, taxpayers wind up paying twice for our unhealthy food system:
Once to subsidize junk food, and again to treat diet-related diseases like heart disease and stroke. It’s no wonder that both fiscal conservatives and health professionals are up in arms. Even as the U.S. government is encouraging us to eat the right stuff, they’re subsidizing the wrong stuff.
And it’s killing us.
How can you help?
As individuals we can and should try to choose healthier foods. But there’s more we can do.
Contact your Congressional representatives and urge them to favor investments in healthy food, instead of subsidizing unhealthy, processed foods that are making us sick. Team up with the Union of Concerned Scientists at ucsusa.org/healthyfood
Your heart — and wallet — will thank you for it.