The Walton Family Foundation invested in a Honduran lobster fishery, targeting its sustainability and touting its success. Ten years later, thousands of workers have been injured or killed.
August 7, 2013
Anyone who has suffered from (or lost a loved one to) cardiovascular disease can attest to its costs, both emotional and financial. We know that each of us can avoid – or at least stave off – heart disease by maintaining a healthy diet and that the most effective way to get people to eat better is to make it easier (and cheaper) to do so. Sadly, food and agriculture policy rarely reflects this knowledge.
For years, good food advocates have complained that government subsidies for commodity crops like corn and soy support a system where junk food is cheaper and easier to find than fresh fruits and vegetables, particularly in underserved neighborhoods, where diet-related diseases are especially prevalent. Helping citizens avoid cardiovascular disease is a worthy goal in itself but these days it seems that framing things financially is the only way to talk to decision-makers.
Enter a new report from the Union of Concerned Scientists, which adds up the cost of diet-related cardiovascular disease and extends these financial projections to scenarios where people ate more fruits and vegetables, creating real savings, in both money and lives.
The $11 Trillion Reward: How Simple Dietary Changes Can Save Lives and Money, and How We Get There breaks it down financially:
Assuming these sizable savings are enough to gain the attention of the Senate Agricutlure Committee, what exactly can they do to make it easier for people to make healthy food choices? UCS wraps up the report with a number of simple policy recommendations, including:
Of course, by maintaining a healthy diet, we can each offset our risk of other diet-related illnesses, too, and the costs of those aren’t even factored into this report. And rewriting policy to support fruit and vegetable farmers would have other added benefits – our local economies would be healthier, and farmers who grow a diverse range of crops tend to use fewer chemicals, so they’re good for our environment, too. Saving thousands of lives and trillions of dollars, while improving local economies and the environment? Sounds like the kind of triple – make that quadruple – bottom line even Congress should be able to get behind.
Image by José Damián Garrido.
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