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Why a Big Mac Costs Less Than a Salad

An oldie but goodie, highlighting the role of government subsidies in our less-than-healthful diet. The image is of two contrasting food pyramids: one our recommended diet, and the other our food subsidies. Another shameful case of government policy gone wrong.

I'd love to see an administration and a Congress brave enough and smart enough to fix problems like this.
Thanks to lobbying, Congress chooses to subsidize foods that we're supposed to eat least of.
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not holding my breath when they insist that pizza counts as a vegetable
You mean when they decide that they're too stupid to handle problems like this and quit subsidizing and regulating food so heavily?
+Tim O'Reilly Totally in agreement about the need to ditch subsidies.

However, that graph at the bottom of the article is either misleading or confusing, maybe both. It sets the price for everything to 1 at the start. I see what they're trying to highlight is how the price of each category changes relative to its price at the start date, but it's misleading to have everything at 1 when it makes it look like, for example, a butter costs the same as a meat.
Dude - this is such a complex issue.

I dropped 50 pounds last year (over 22% of my body weight) just by changing my diet. I did it without starving - in fact I ate quite a bit. However, it was mainly locally sourced, organically grown vegetables and fruit.

I travel a lot, and Americans as a whole (my previous self included) are very unhealthy - at least those in airports and compared to others in Europe and Asia. You can trace it back to Earl Butz in 1972 and the changes made to farm subsidies. That in turn enriches companies like Monsanto (who contractually limit farmers from reusing seed) and overproduces products like corn. He also removed the ability for farmers to differentiate their products, coming up instead with the generic "#2 corn" designation, which makes it harder for farmers to charge higher prices for better products.

Cheap products lead to cheap, unhealthy food, which in turn leads to obesity and health problems. But since food is one of the few remaining US exports, it is doubtful we'll see government addressing the issue. Tie this in with the health care and agriculture lobbies that put most of our representatives in office, and this isn't a problem that is going to be addressed any time soon.

It's sad, as it affects the poor more than most. I'm lucky that I'm able to afford to eat well. I can't truly express how much better I feel.
The chart is flawed on many levels.

However, I am deeply concerned with the economic viability of small organic farmers and their roles in our towns and cities as makers of our stuff.

My sense is that subsidies aren't as much of a problem for small farmers as agra-monopolies are. But I'm struggling to find data that backs that up.

Can any one help me find it?

cc +Darin Grimm
TJ Downes
"I'd love to see an administration and a Congress brave enough and smart enough to fix problems like this"

It's not about bravery or intelligence. It's about who's lobbying and how much money is being spent lobbying.
I grew up in a family that you would say ate the wrong food. Fried chicken, pork chops, Bacon cornbread greens. As you gathered to south.
You can say we live to eat and ate to live. The average age of my family is over 90 years. Our secret really not a secret. We work hard, something everyone should try. You will live longer. Its called. "SWEATEQUITY " WORK. HARD PLAY HARD. The most exercise some people get is typing or texting.
It seems misleading to have those two graphics next to each other at all, since it leads people to assume that people are eating the same proportions of the subsidies graphic compared to what they should be eating in the right-hand side, which is NOT what it's showing at all. It's a partial picture at best. This would be much more interesting if it actually looked at the costs of production for various food and food types, and volume produced. Otherwise, you could have a cheap grain/fruit that is produced in huge volumes but is inexpensive to do so... and so receives few subsidies, while at the same time have a meat product that's produced in smaller volumes but is costly to do so... and so receive more subsidies. And tada, you'd end up with huge amounts of subsidies for expensive meat products, even though potentially people are actually eating tons of fruit/grains. Granted, I don't think that's the case, but I think this is a huge hole in any usefulness this chart has.
You get the government you vote for.
As a farmer, and one who grows corn, there's several things about this that are highly misleading. Probably the key point is for a number of years I have had a lot of freedom to grow what I want on my farm. And with the higher commodity prices in recent years government subsidies provide a very minute fraction of my farms revenue. If your interested, I actually wrote a blog post specifically about why I grow corn, and tried to address some of the common things I often hear:
my bigmac has salad on it... in fact it has meat, vegetables, and grain
i hate MCDONALDS. they freak me out.the worst part is that a lot of American people like it. it tastes good but, like a lot of fast food resturants its bad for your health.
Who is this and why are you on my page even though your not my approved friend?
Oh, this is a good old issue. Esentially all the "corn based" industry, which includes livestock raised on corn (of which the outbreaks of E-coli are a byproduct) is way cheaper than the other food. If I remember correctly there is a documentary called "Food Inc" which makes a decent coverage of the issue.
+James Finstrom that's only a facsimile of a salad on top of what appears to be meat (although the small percentage that is meat is 100%). And grains? That be corn or something made from corn pretending to be something else. The box it came in was nearly as nutritious and contains as much corn as the burger.
Unfortunately, neither of those pyramids are appropriate for a healthy diet.
Why are Americans fat? Lobbyists.
Well if they were smart enough to fix the problem they would just eliminate the subsidies.
+billy bragg Simple statistics unfortunately prove you wrong.

For example, the average life span in ALL OECD countries is higher now than previous. The amount of crap eaten is higher. Ipso Facto, the more crap you eat, the longer you live.

Your argument is no different to that put forward by people who have 80 year old smokers in their families. "My grandad is 85 and he's been a smoker his whole life".

My father died of emphysema. He wasn't a smoker and didn't work with asbestos or anything similar. He was 46. My brother and sister smoke and bother passed 46 years of age. Thus smokers live longer than non-smokers.

The fact your family may have life spans greater than the average is not an advertisement for the food they eat.
A Big Mac does not taste good. Disgusting!
"supposed to eat least of"?? The food pyramid is the product of blatant lobbying. Remove subsidies altogether and let the people decide what to eat based on the food, not it's phony cost.
Two of my in-laws live in the US and often comment about how cheap food is in the US compared to Australia. One, an economist, pointed this out to me a while ago, explaining why it is that food that's not particularly good for you (in quantity) is so easily and cheaply available and more readily purchased by those who are poorer.

It's a bizarre situation.
Well, the tea party got House Republicans to kill ethanol subsidies. That's only half a step away from the rest of the corn and agriculture subsidies...maybe it's possible to end this silliness.
It is the perfect system for capitalism as is, the workforce don't live long into retirement due to poor health, meaning they are not a financial drain on society, yet live long enough to prop up the workforce to supply demand.

That is exactly how the owners of America want it.
My sister worked at a McDonalds for 2 years, she said the most expensive part of the burgers was the tomatoes. I always thought that was interesting.
Rudy M
Interesting. Actually the subsidy pyramid is by far a healthier diet for me personally.
The interesting question is why no subsidies for fruits and vegetables?
good share +Tim O'Reilly ! so it's not a purely free market after all, same thing as with corn, oil,...
+Dan Hiris Probably because there's little in the way of manufacturing involved. It would be interesting to see how it's come about, the lobbying etc.

It's easy to see who has won, but not how.
No, the interesting question is: why subsidize any of it?
+Xanthe Matychak I would say that the only thing limiting small organic farmers is simply consumer demand. It's tough to compete with the efficency of larger operations on a cost standpoint. So small farms are most viable if they can sell their product for a premium price. There is very rapidly growing interest in local and diverse food choices, much of which is being met by what would be considered small farms.
free money makes costs go up. The price of a product will increase by an equal amount of the free money available.
I will be forwarding a link to the above to all of my elected representatives in Congress asking them what they are planning to do to fix this and if not, why not. I'm not holding my breath for any sort of nutritional love though.

Done. Both senators, representative and the president contacted. Now comes breath holding time... ;)
+Margaret Leber All mixed economies include subsidies as part of their economy. It's supposed to be the means by which the community can ensure it's best interests are being met...via government assistance and policy.

Unfortunately it can also mean that in those countries where vested interests have undue influence, the use of subsidies is distorted.
People up there want us dumb, fat, unhealthy, so that you can't think at their level...and than they want you to believe them whatever they want...simple is that..
It's more convenient and easier way to feed the nation. Especially the poor class. Try to offer them big loaf of bread instead of small piece of meat and you will have violent revolution next day. So the recommendation that no one follow anyway has very little to do with reallity of life
I'm not so sure that they are at that superior a level
I honestly have always wondered about that, why processed foods cost more than those that have less done to them.
Which is why there are so many over-weight people in the South.... sad, very sad.
I totally agree; Mc Ds is really trying to promote obesity :P lol. (no comment besides that the government really sucks at buisness...)
Gov't should NOT be taxing or subsidizing food period. Who are they to dictate what we can and can't eat & drink?
Not to mention most of the "vegetable" subsidies go to corn which we eat way too much of, as I'm sure you know
+Krista Wesley I see over-weight people. People, ready for an early grave, like in coffins. Walking around like regular people. They don't see each other. They only see what they want to see. All the time. They're everywhere.
more collateral and less cholesterol
We need to be cautious about one-size fits all food recommendations. To illustrate, I know two people with celiac disease, which was made worse by trying to follow the food pyramid, which used to recommend 60+% of calories should come from grains. I know someone that has an allergy to wheat and another that is allergic to tree nuts. People with diabetes process food differently than those without diabetes. And then there are food allergies. There is a wide range of differing responses to food, not just the extreme cases of celiac, allergies or diabetes - but people who fall into "affected by wheat", allergies, or "pre-diabetes" or insulin resistance. My point is that a "one size fits all" recommendation is flawed at its foundation; when that policy is then used to create policy and subsidy programs that incent behaviors that may cause harm (and again, what is healthy for one may be devastating for another), we need to ask, "Gee, what could go wrong?"
Douglas R- You're so thin looking. What's your secret?
On the one hand, I wholeheartedly support your baseline point; government subsidies ought to be revamped to align with better health management. However the idea that a Big Mac costs less than a healthy salad is a misnomer we must also vanquish. The notion that eating healthy is too expensive compared to crap, combined with the also erroneous but prevalent beliefs that eating healthy is too hard or takes too long, prevents millions from even trying to return to whole foods. Especially given that almost no one buys a whopper without fries and a soda. Let's spread the word that healthy, if you just take a few minutes to learn, is less expensive than crap food and a MUST for improved health and longevity.
+Darin Grimm Sorry Darin but you seem to contradict yourself. First you boast that you have the freedom to choose which crops you grow, but then you spend the rest of your post explaining why you have to grow corn because a) nothing else will grow in Kansas, and b) it's too expensive to grow anything else.

You're actually unknowingly proving the point of this article.
Federal govt. shouldn't subsidize any of it. Let the markets of the respective industries flourish or fail on their own. Not to mention the federal food pyramid is completely unhealthy. No human on the planet has a pancreas that can handle that much grain/starch/sugar. It's practically perfectly inverted. Proteins are what our bodies are made of. Not sugars. It probably wouldn't be so bad if they didn't strip all the actual nutrition out of our grains before they gave them to us.
+Angelie Roth The family farm was not more efficient.

Can you point me to some statistic about this? If it had been more efficient, why was it that they were unable to resist being the larger companies coming in an buying them out...they were more efficient.

Large farms are far more efficient in producing any product per dollar input. If you include damage to the environment then they also do that (when you look at cattle and other live animals) far more efficiently than smaller farms and more quickly.

However I'm unaware of any government policy in either the US or Australia that 'caused' the failure of small, family farms, to be able to compete with large, corporate farms...other than the failure to subside the farms.

In Australia there was a long history of the farmers (who were, and still are, typically conservative in their politics) being able to ensure large subsidies were provided to help them. It's nicknamed "Agrarian Socialism" - conservative voting farmers wanting the rest of the community to support them while claming subsidies for everyone else was evidence of communism (there are many in the US who also have this hypocritic, contradictory view as well).

All this said, I'm not sure which policies of which government you are referring to given than economies of scale are evident in most manufacturing and farming industries.
i have no idea how I got into your stream, feel free to block me
Ryan: it's called what's hot. It's in everybody's stream.
The Family Farm in this day and age of advanced technology would be a lot more efficient and better suited for a reliable source of quality supply with a larger variety. I grew up in Communist Romania and by creating collectives, which would only export, they made everyone have their own garden. And we ate well even though we didn't have any choices in the stores.
+Rick Weber And about eighty percent of all corn grown in the U.S. is consumed by domestic and overseas livestock, poultry, and fish production. Those animals didn't have corn as their primary food source originally either.
Because over time the big mac has gotten smaller, and really is no longer the "big mac" of what it once was....doesn't taste good anymore either
Who cares...they will eat it anyway no matter how much it costs.
+Mark Garrett Exactly. Their stomachs can't even really digest corn well. The entire e-coli problem was created by ecoli bacteria that mutated in the stomachs of cows who's digestive systems couldn't cope with grains that large.
NO!!!! REALLY!?!??! gosh people just are stupid..
eating healthy seems to always cost more :(
okay, but big macs aren't unhealthy. People just need to count their calories.

It would be cake to make a salad with tons more calories, saturated fat, and cholesterol.
While I don't support some of the arguments made in this trend (Big Macs are delicious, but I eat MAYBE 2 a year. As well, I couldn't go vegetarian. My body didn't like it at all, and I gave the diet a sincere try), the food subsidies in America have been a very massive problem. They are pushing out the smaller farmers and creating an unhealthy eating environment. Blah blah blah. This argument's been said forever.

Rather than complaining about this, everyone should worry about the fact that there are many places still in this country (read: majority Black neighborhoods) where ideas of fresh, healthful food doesn't exist. Let's work on that first by putting in grocery stores and community gardens that can actually feed kids things other than what I ate growing up, which was a lot of carryout food and unhealthy food.

While we can complain about the state of food, the responsibility for obesity in this country still lies on us as people. If I don't work out and spend everyday eating cheeseburgers, I'm going to get fat. If I don't work out and spend everyday eating salads, I'm not going to get fat but I'm still going to be amazingly unhealthy. The key part is staying moving and being active, something all of us can do regardless of what you put into your body. We all can solve the obesity problem without the help of the government. We can solve it with our own two feet.
Me too, that is why I eat them.
Of course, regarding the recommendations, we also know that recommending more grains than vegetables is insane.
i will never ever eat McDonalds food, burger, salad, or anything else for that matter.
What do you expect from a group of people who wanted to call pizza a vegetable
this is good news to know. I am wondering about a correllation of subsidized foods to there role in international trade? Of which certian foods like meat and grains are big.
Big macs are retarded and small
A picture is worth a thousand words. Pretty astounding that the subsidies aren't more balanced.
It doesn't matter what it's made of. You eat it either because that is all you can afford or you are used to it because you are raised on it because that is all your parents could afford.

Interesting why McD food in European countries tastes much better
Oh Tim, Tim, Tim! You need to meet the Tea Party'ers. Just tell them that you want congress and the government to legislate what foods we can like.
+David Renaud Ethanol is viable. Unfortunately it cuts into the the other uses of field corn stated above. 98% of U.S. corn is not edible without being processed (and even then probably shouldn't be consumed, at least not in the quantities it is). Should more sweet corn be grown for export? Maybe.
I'm actually getting better at salad making skills... and I force myself to buy the ingredients knowing it is less cost effective to eat them compared to other things. I refuse to be part of that system.
Look up the story on sugar and US international lobbying.
Trivia note: Adele Davis, once revered as a nutrition expert, said that, of all the fast food out there, the one the best for you was the Big Mac. Further note: when she was in final treatement for the cancer that ultimately killed her a few years later, she decided her entire life had been a waste. Whether or not those two things are related is up to you.
+David Renaud If you look at the stats relating to diet in OECD countries, you'll see your argument laid out for you.

As you point out, those with smaller disposable incomes have less to spend on food. The tend towards those food types which have higher calories and are cheaper and live in areas where these food types and related outlets predominate.

Those with higher education levels and higher disposable incomes can afford to spend more on their food and tend towards a greater range.

That large corporations take advantage of these facts is simply a function of their policies - promote their product and take it where you can sell it.

One town in Australia (Katoomba, NSW) refused to allow McDonald's to build in the town. Another (Newtown, NSW) HAD a McDonald's, but the trendy, neo-hippy, left-wing and Uni-going members of the population avoided it and it closed.
then Congress tells Joe Public he's too fat and the health problems he has are all his fault. What's worse is then Congress supports policies which don't make sense and when Joe cannot afford his heathcare, wonders why. Funny how life works
Lets start a movement. Totally frustrated with the subsidies.....give them to the farmers that produce "good for you" produce. Its a big chain reaction.
And maybe fruit producers try to keep high price and higher profit.
+J Collier The problems ARE all his fault. The government is not forcing anyone to eat unhealthy. Make smart money/food choices and you would be fine, but people don't want to.
Hate on big mac haters. The way i see it is that big macs are fuckin delicious.
I think for subsidize food policy It Depends on taste of voter that He considers its But Nowaday,Mc Donald & Burger King&KFC have a branches every place in our world.
Very interesting. Food for thought.
Interestingly enough, grains are what we don't need and they still get a huge portion of the attention. Meat and veggies are what we need, with some fruit. 
Also, those of you who talked about the "documentary" food inc, you are dumbasses, especially if you think the shit in there is real. What the people who made that movie did is took the worst, and i mean THE worst examples of the modern day food industry. They take the bad stuff and sell it like the entire goddamn industry acts like it. People dont know shit. It is a crying shame that you are naive enough to believe anything that TV tells you.
the full blown version of all its "logic"
"It is a crying shame that you are naive enough to believe anything that TV tells you."

You're wrong, did you hear that Paul McCartney really is dead?
Sorry, so not true. If that was the case then why have so many dairies in my area gone out of business. They had no bailout like many of the major banks got in 08.
The Federal recommendations are all whacked out as well. Grains were never meant to be eaten by humans. People call salad "bird food", but the truth is grains are (part of) what birds eat. People didn't eat them until the rise of agriculture. Notice the rise in gluten intolerance? It's because grains produce lectin - a natural toxin they produce to stop humans from eating them.

Most animals were never meant to eat grains either. Leave a cow or a pig loose in a corn field - they'll eat the stalks but not the corn. Why? Because they don't eat it unless it's all that people feed them!

Food is beyond fucked up in this country. Our relationship with it is fucked up. Try to tell someone not to eat grains or dairy - they'll think you're batty, but the truth is we're the only species to drink milk past infancy.
+Ron Paul will end agriculture subsidies because they aren't an enumerated power.
where's me pitchfork? Subsidize nuts!
please 1+ my posts search 4 Chasen Spicer
The whole point of subsidies is to say "screw you" to people's best interests. I mean, in theory, you could subsidize the things that people were going to buy anyway. But 1) why do that and 2) we don't live in a theoretical world. We live in a real world where politicians don't become better people once they get elected.
So sad. I can decide what is good to eat on my own. Also so sad. I don't need to pinch pennies and eat shit for food.
Go watch the Fat Head videos on YouTube and Netflix if you need more info on how much you've been lied to about what is healthy.
What I hate most about the graphic is that it is comparing the subsidies for food to the USDA food pyramid. The USDA food pyramid has been pretty well discredited as a good way to eat; it's based on bad science, and probably is one of the many causes of many of the modern health problems in America: obesity, depression, tooth decay, atherosclerosis, &c.
This should surprise no one it is not like the government has ever had the best interest of its cash cows citizens at heart.
Ronald McDonald will do whatever it takes to get his meat in your mouth
I think its cheaper because they want us to be fat sick and almost dead because legal drugs doctors push are much more expensive then then illegal ones
I have one thing to say about this. People don't understand the true cost of food because it is obscured by subsidy and bleeds into other realms like health and environmental issues.
Well it's cheaper then but when you have heart problems you'll need every penny you can get! 
+William Perry Don't be an idiot. Everything at Five Guys is MUCH better than anything at McDonald's. Plus you can get jalapenos. On a hamburger. At +Five Guys.
Sad, but true. And accepted. 
Why a Big Mac costs less than a salad is because nobody wants a fucking salad.
Healthful is a word? I thought the word was 'Healthy'.
pay for it now.. by eating healthy, or later, by going to the doctor.
+Tim O'Reilly It's not exactly government policy gone wrong: it has gone remarkably well for those who have vested interests in these practices. As the ex-senator said in the documentary "Sicko": "If you want to keep a people under control, you must keep them stupid, unhealthy, and afraid".
just makes me wanna go to mcdonnalds even more!
Let's see the world.
Why is big mac cheaper in Asia?
Hong Kong sells world's cheapest big mac.
Salad is cheaper than big mac in Asia.

The Big Mac Index:

USA US$3.57
Hong Kong US$1.72
China US$1.83
Srilanka US$1.83
Malaysia US$1.88
Thailand US$1.89
Russia US$2.04
Philippines US$2.05
Indonesia US$2.05
South Africa US$2.17
Taiwan US$2.26
Pakistan US$2.30
Egypt US$2.33
South Korea US$2.59
Singapore US$2.88
Saudi Arabia US$2.93
Argentina US$3.02
New Zealand US$3.08
Canada US$3.35
Australia US$3.37
Japan US$3.46
Britain US$3.69
Brazil US$4.42
Euro Area US$4.62
Denmark US$5.53
Norway US$6.15-
stupid congress-what do they do right?
I'd love love to see an administration and congress responsible and noble enough to do their job and not spend their time and influence trying to keep their job.
A third chart outlining the cost to produce in each category would be helpful here.
A Big Mac costs less than a salad because McDonald's sells way more Big Macs than they do salads. If all things were equal, subsidies would give an unfair advantage... but all things are not equal. It's not like everyone likes salad more than Big Macs, but they just can't say no to a good deal.... they eat the Big Macs because they taste good and salad doesn't. Obviously, there are some that prefer salads, but the consumers vote with their wallets and they love savory, juicy, meaty, umami flavors more than some mixed greens.
You realize that the food industry made the food pyramid. What the people selling you the food tell you to eat and what you should eat are two different things.
Thanks, Congress! Glad someone is watching our waistlines (expand).
who cares, big macs are the shit!
Subsidies should be about guaranteeing we continue to have family farms producing food locally to as much of the population as possible, and about ensuring crop diversity. Instead, they're about politics, and it has a tremendously destructive effect on our diet. Fast foods are engineered with fat, salt, sugar, and chemicals to trigger neurochemical responses of pleasure and craving. That, along with lack of diversity in foods available to a lot of the population results in the crisis of obesity, heart disease, and diabetes that are so straining the health care system, and for which the consumers are popularly blamed. It's ridiculous. We need sane agriculture, nutrition, and health care policies that take each other into account.
Weli A
Just don't eat at McDonald's, or any fast food for that matter. And if you don't believe me, watch FOOD Inc.

That's the only way we can get congress or any administration to act
There is no money to be made on the healthy or the dead, but lots of money to be made on the ill. Keeping people healthy is not a good health plan :(
Is there a -1 button somewhere? This is nonsense. I eat a salad for lunch that includes spinach, carrots, mushrooms, tomatoes, olives, cheese, red bell pepper, chick peas, sunflower seeds, olive oil, balsamic vinegar, and sometimes more. I estimate this cost at about $5. Big Macs are what, around $4? I'd say by any reasonable estimate the salad is actually cheaper if you take into account the variety you get.

But even if it wasn't, I'm not sure what those recommendations have to do with the reality of what is actually healthy. Go find Gary Taube's NYT article, "What if it's all a big fat lie." Before trying to dictate health guidelines we should make sure the science is good.
i agree with matt. salads are way healthier. no one really cares besides the 1000 people that read this. LOL
Some very complex issues interact here. Certainly there are intelligent people who can figure out how to make the pyramid on the left look more like the pyramid on the right. Many farmers and indeed a whole new generation of farmers would be open to some changes to their farms and farming operations. Agriculture is so important for us to support as a nation to avoid bankruptcies in bad years and potential food shortages when no one is left to farm the land. There can and should be government subsidies here but more debate and and mixing of ideas on health needs and family farm and rural cultural needs should occur.Indeed we have dug a hole in turning to huge agribusiness that may be difficult to climb out of as a society
I totally agree, but I have to stay healthy, so I will pay for my health, how about you?..I understand the need to save for your well being, but come on, you get what you pay for to be totally honest. I agree that most fruits and vegetables are more expensive, but it's harder for them to produce...or that is the guise we are lead to believe, that these farmers are so struggling...even the organic shit costs more, even though they haven't used shit to graze their foods other than their traditional ways.
I'd just as soon our government leave our food alone!
Movie Dirt is pretty enlightening on the subject also.
LOL. There's a friend of mine who's writing a commentary about what's inside McDonalds food. Totally I agree, to be honest, but even the salads at McDonalds are literally grease sponges, if you research the dang ingredients. I think, like, only 1/6 of the salads are healthy. And if you research the Big Macs, you wouldn't even want to eat one if you knew. I don't even want to SAY anything about the stinkin' ingredients, they're so disgusting. Everything at McDonalds is awful if you read between the lines. UGGH!
Two all beef patties (and weird goo)...... ugh is right Meg!!
My dog is the most amazing dog ever

Physicians Committee for responsible medicine is a vegetarian lobby group. The subsidies of meat and daity are mostly delievered by subsidies to GRAIN crops that are then fed to animals. This is a terrible policy, as cows are not supposed to eat grains, they are meant to eat grass. Of course when you have a vegetarian agenda, you need to "massage" the data to make it look like meat and dairy are the offending culprits, rather than the grains that are dstroying the planet and people's health.
sadly, another reason why it's hard for Americans to live healthy. the Fed govt don't want that to happen, they pour millions of dollars into it. lol
OK.. I take back my thought of becoming a vegetarian :-).. Or I need to start growing my own food.
On the issue of subsidising foods - there is an issue - the subsidies pumped into producing corn, soy, wheat and rice are causing untold environmental, economic, social and health issues. Stop subisidising these weeds and we would all be better off (including the poor and hungry).
Is it any surprise that the tobacco giant Altria (Phillip Morris) owns most of KRAFT foods? They are the experts of addiction, having moved into the addictive foods, and doing all they can to keep their addiction to subsidies. (thank you opensecrets dot org)
"I'd love to see an administration and a Congress brave enough and smart enough to fix problems like this." Would you really? Then vote for Ron Paul. Of course when you say, "brave and smart enough" you probably mean that you'd like to see subsidies for things YOU disapprove of ended, but you'd like to see the subsidies of things YOU approve of continued. The Libertarian position wisely recognizes that that is folly, and the only way to avoid this very minor stupidity (as government stupidities go) is by reducing federal government meddling in large areas of commercial and cultural life.
why would i care big macs are discusting annyway
We have laws against monopolies. Broke AT&T up to several "daughter company's" such as Bell (in Canada, BellSouth, Southwestern Bell, ect). However the government allows the Monsanto Seed corporation monopoly to flourish. What happened Pioneer? Oh yeah, The farmer tried Monsanto seed one year and the following year went bankrupt for Monsanto driving them to the ground for having a GMO, than Monsanto bought the farm dirt cheap. Can we say monopoly? The government is so heavily for this company it's scary. That is why they say grains are more important than your meat and dairy. Monsanto can and will sue you and do the same if your neighbor plants their seeds and it creates a GMO in your field. What happened to the days the government got pissed when they found marijuana growing in your field. Now they don't care, just don't have a Monsanto GMO offspring. 
It doesn't distract at all from the point of the article, but the infographic is a little misleading. The protein section, despite being slightly more than half the number of servings of grain, looks to be less than a quarter of the volume...
It is because people are willing to pay too much for health food. Look at coffee prices. Look at women's magazines vs those targeted at men.

The author clearly does not understand economics.
+Shawn White you do realize that Altria/Philip Morris doesn't own much, if any of Kraft... they took 11-12% public in 2001 and then spun the remaining 88% off to their shareholders in 2007 (if you owned 100 shares of Altria, you'd get 70 or so shares in Kraft).
Too bad the food pyramid has it backwards. See: Paleo Diet.
to bad people would believe food
is to blame rather than their lack of wanting to get up and exercise
This graph merely reflects what consumers prefer. If cobsumers were wild about broccoli, then it would get subsidized too. You're confusing the causality. What people want --> gets subsidized, not "subsidies determine what ppl want".
+Eric Joseph Yes, your right. The Paleo Diet is the best diet and the only one with a proven track record of health. The so called Food Pyramid recommending grains is a great way to ruin your health.
I agree that subsidies are wrong in many cases but I wouldn't say that it's necessary going to foods we should eat less of....lots of proven scientific proof that meat is just as important as veggies if not more so ;-)
Beef used to be they are in feed lots. Dairy used to be pastured, as well as they are in confinements. Land is worth alot when looking at from the perspective of producing food, but land is now being used more for housing and less for food production.
Its a sad state of affairs when the government has to tell you what to eat and how much to eat in the first place. Add in the farm subsidies scams, land use scams, and others and its a cottage industry all its own. Even nutritional scientists present conflicting data on what and how much to eat. It always comes back to common sense. Look at trans fats and why it was introduced in the first place... That is why we need less government and fewer reaching government influence in all aspects of our lives. Its only place is to provide what we can't provide for ourselves.
The US government is all about making food cheaper...for the producers of food. That's why you have High Fructose Corn Syrup instead of sugar, and why HFCS is in all of your food, even the bread you eat. Nobody ever put sugar in their bread, but HFCS is in bread. And it's all unhealthy for you. No wonder people are getting fatter. Invented in Japan, brought to the US by Nixon, and never replaced by anyone because it's cheap. And if food is cheap, nobody complains to the government about food prices.
I'm not sure this has been mentioned, though it probably has. Gov subsidies for meat are not just for meat. We use parts of the animals across a wide spectrum of products. If you took away the subsidies, all the products would be affected. Clearly, alternative solutions for those products should be found, but it's difficult to endanger that market's stability before the replacements are available ... and it's difficult to create economical replacements while the government is funding cattle production. So, the situation is more complicated than it at first seems. Someone smart should do something creative!
It's not a question of 'brave and smart enough', it a question of which lobby/interest group is paying the most. We have the best gov't money can buy, not the best gov't for the people.
picture this, I had a diet of hamburgers that were the size of "Burger Kings" largest burger (not healthy), then out of curiosty I ordered a big-mac which is just as good as a salad in retrospect...
We also subsidize soybeans, which probably should not be eaten in large quantities in an unprocessed state. In Asia, they are almost always fermented, only occasionally consumed as edamame.
Glad that fast food is relatively expensive here in China that prevents us from becoming American-sized quickly.
Haha, simon forgot about the Chinese fat farms for their fat Chinese.
And meanwhile let's all give a warm welcome to Monsato coming to the FDA...
Think before you type next time, you fucking fat foreign douchebag.
Take my country, take my freedom BUT DON'T TAKE MY fat big mac or fried chicken away . Fat people make me rich!
Oh Ron Paul, I wish you could win.
I agree B.U.T.
Behold the Underlying Truth
Good to know that they are not subsiding SHIT. ¬_¬
Like it or not He's not connected enough to accomplish ANYTHING
Yes ... the Underlying Truth be always worth be holding.
+Mal Enor , I'am promoting healthy food in my reach. But if things go opposite way I also have reason to be optimistic--China would reach the point of sustainable population sooner as fat people statistically live shorter life, particularly in a country where most people can not afford excessive medical treatment.
Also, the underlying truth of garbage trash!
I heard a U.S. Senator explain one of the underlying reasons for subsidizing farmers and the crops they grow. Napoleon was quoted to say "All wars are fought on the soldiers' bellies." What he meant is that feeding the military in cases where national defense is at stake is the underlying national security goal behind food subsidies. The cuisine that is subsidized may be selected more from that perspective than concern for healthy consumer cuisine. For example, in a protracted, defensive military engagement, MRE cuisine may be more important than organic greens, which are more perishable.
Watch "Food, Inc." and shiver. You will never eat meat again...
lol +Max Welling
Even better read "Fast Food Nation"...
Oh and "Nickle and Dimed".. while Nickle and Dimed isn't about food it describes some of the issues around money and food really well.
JFC I cannot believe how much verbal bullshit this generated.
Get a life
Wow, good to know stuff. We need to be better educated as citizens, consumers and voters.
Lukasec, chill. It's the Internet. It's all verbal bullshit. 
Has there ever been a time when our government didn't get it bass ackwards?
The evidence that the U.S.government and that of most states is irretrievably corrupt is overwhelming and conclusive. The only question that remains is when will enough people get fed up and take the necessary action to put things back to right?
Explains a lot. Thanks for the clarity.
Yard sushi? Does that mean slugs and earwigs?
Growing salad is not macho and involves undocumented workers. Raising and driving cattle is what brought railroads across the American continent and has been romanticized in so many westerns that it is part of the American character and psyche. Cattle is Big Business; salad is for hippies and people trying to loose weight. Wait... what? ;-)
I prefer metre sushi, as I find I get slightly more than yard sushi.
This is ridiculous. The unhealthy food costs us all more in the long run. shakes head
That's a rubbish viz, conflating volume and length.
Isn't this by the guy in New York area, who thinks everyone should be a vegan and posted the billboards equating cheese with obesity?
That's an amazing post !
i couldn't agree more/ Governments hold a huge responsibility in the not so healthy life style we are living !
+1ed :D
Because food has a particular thing like- rice, daal, (these things have a constant price) but salad contain more than one thing called mixture, so its cost be high.
It would be really great to see this issue change. Eating healthy is really expensive! 
In India, I would like to see an an administration and a Parliament brave enough and smart enough to fix corruption and put food (not choosy as to what kind at this stage) before the starving masses.
My mother used to say that the rich people are skinnier and not the poor ones.
makes perfect sense really, those industries employ people with powerful unions?
Darin Grimm- thanks for posting that. I confess though I have a tough time believing that your subsidy check would have been the same regardless of what crop you grow. Could you explain this a little more?
Believe it or not, we do not exist with-in a vacuum. Our choices correlate with our experiences.
If you do not believe your choices correlate with your experiences you are in denial.
America's become the proverbial fat-fuck....we eat everything that's conveniently made for us. How many of us ACTUALLY cook food at home? most people eat out three to four times a week, and all of the food has more calories than one can take but since it's a restaurant, we're supposed to trust them? they probably just as much used cheap food themselves dressing up to look fancy. It's business as usual. Cook your own shit and watch your measurements...Oh, and eat to live, not live to eat!!!
^ don't care it's convenience
Hope our gov't pays attention to this too.
billy ki tarah lah rahi ho
GROW UP PEOPLE it's a HAMBURGER for the love of oat meal anyways'
Depends on what "to fix" means. If it means reducing the subsidies for beef etc., I'm with you. If it's topping up the subsidies for salads, not so much. I suspect the latter is far more likely than the former however.
That's not all that's wrong with government. We only need a small revolution really. The SYSTEM is somewhat OK. Perhaps there needs to be a better way of finding representatives who are actually Representative. We are so close and yet so far.
+julian ebeli There is nothing wrong with the system. It is designed to be self-correcting and self-improving. The problem is an apathetic population who can't be bothered to understand the issues before parroting some talking head and then voting for a party without thinking about what really matters.

(And I'm not talking "the issues" because those are mostly window dressing to how intrusive our government can get into our lives.)
Знаш ли српски?
/Do you speak Serbian?/
Thanks to FDR, corporations evolved to take over government, gaining access to both funding and to favorable laws. Government has yet to evolve to deal with this new reality, other than to grow like cancer.
it figures, is why we need to fire every last one of them.
Hahahahahahah @ business growing like cancer... Government made these decisions.
The government subsidized dairy and beef production because of Peta crap making it more expensive to raise livestock... Plants don't have "feelings"
Perhaps we need more salad lobbyists.. we have the best government money can buy...

While we are at it, why are we converting a food crop into fuel, causing sugar, yeast, and just about anything connected to them to rise in cost? remove the govt subsidies from ethanol production since it is a poorer fuel than petrolium, causes water absorption, is corrosive, etc..

We just keep electing them!
It's not surprising really. Democracy might be government of the people for the people by the people. But the government levers of power are designed by the people with political and economic power for the people with power to keep them in power.
I am glad the Big Mac costs less, not only is it delicious but its damn nutritious too.

Down with sissy salads.
And once that is fixed, the next step is to fix the faults of the food pyramid which is a mix of old science and what-a-committee-thought-would-be-palatable. Sadly there is a long way to go.
a minority of the corporate farms are the ones sharing he subsidies while the local small farmer struggles to make ends meet. the lobbying is paid for by the corporate farms the samwe ones who are shoving genetically engineered products into your guts. blame congress blame lobbying but dont blame ma and pa small farmer , they may be yopur salvation.
Fact: The colors yellow and red are the colors which tell you brain you are hungry, that's why many companies use these colors as their brand colors.
Funny... as much as they've been pushing LOW FAT for the past 40years, we've only become more fat. Maybe it's because everything's covered in grains, flour, rice or should I say CARBS. FAT isn't the problem... carbs are. Whether you eat sugar directly or eat grains... it all converts to sugar in your system which increases your insulin response and what the body can't combat, get's stored as fat.
As for subsidies... how about this... stop all gov't subsidies. They're useless anyways. Eat like our ancestors did... whole foods. Eat your meat and veggies... skip the rolls, bread and grains; you'll loose weight, prevent diabetes and never go hungry. So I'll gladly eat that big mac... just hold the buns! ;)

Learn more; Watch the movie FAT HEAD (you can stream it from Netflix)
wa lau man...sure the number going to come out 1st price in Magnum soon
+Stephane Lafleur "the full blown version of capitalism... in all its logic"
LOL! Are you braindead? What do government farm subsidies have to do with capitalism? Kneejerk leftist propaganda much? Maybe you should at least read a few sentences of the article before you post your nonsense... or maybe not, it's more hilarity for the rest of us sane people. :-P
I thought they had done away with the "food pyramid" because it's a recipe for diabetes.
Good for You.But we had better fined a good man or woman
for President..What we have now is the Divel and the one's that are running are the divel's brother's.We had better PRAY to GOD for the US
Yes, Ralph, Obama is clearly "The Divel".
Assalamualaikum. Tahmid how r u ? We r fine .Dont forget us.How Bismi,Ekra,Amal ?
I find that really stupid that something that can cause death is cheaper than our health. :(
+gianana huston It goes on and on. How about margarine? It has never been better for us than butter, so why? It is because it doesn't require refrigeration, and is therefore cheaper to transport. Also, because it is made of corn oil, which the government subsidizes.

How about corn syrup? Why is that in everything? It is cheaper than sugar, and were just talking about pennies here, because sugar is dirt cheap. Your health doesn't matter to the big corporations or to the fda, who is in their pocket. What does matter is the all mighty dollar. If these guys could make one extra dollar and cost you ten years of your life, they would not hesitate.
I dunno... the whole meat thing in the paleo diet throws me for a loop.
And are we going to do anything about this problem? I doubt it.
are the dairy and meat industries too big to fail gracefully? are americans willing to eat lower on the food chain by choice? do people like kidney stones and colon cancer that much?
Lobbying, congress... maybe. But there is also the supply/demand factor. There is more demand for a big mac than a salad, it tastes better. The greater the demand, the more "in bulk" you can buy the supply, and the lower the cost.
It's easy to blame, and then demand a solution from, government. But unless you want Washington to regulate what we eat, it would be better to change people's attitudes on healthy food than force it on them.
It's not the dairy and meat industries that are killing people. It's the sugar, corn and wheat that is killing people. You will find it impossible to find evidence for kidney stones and colon cancer in people who stick to whole foods and don't eat sugar, regardless of protein and fat consumption. You absolutely require dietary fats to maintain health and brain function -- and the opposite is true of processed carbs and sugar. Sadly, the craze to cut fat and increase simple carbs appears to be affecting the health and intelligence of the population. Read the nutrition information on "healthy" low fat yogurt some time. Appalling.
The meat industry (including feed production) is the top cause of our most serious environmental problems. Subsidizing that is like shooting ourselves in the gut.
why draw 3d pyramids if you can not do it correctly? in the left one middle two are less than 3% different by face value, but more than 3 times different by drawn value... in the right its even more ridiculous, protein part is less than 2 times smaller by face value than grains part but is drawn 10 times smaller by volume.
that is some dimented pyrimids!
some big mac's are not less then salads like , the big mac in hopewell they are less then the salads at macdonalds . i really dont know about anything else but yeahh.
And this is what happens when someone has a bright idea? Damn corporate stubbornness, ruining all the brilliant plans.
OK but neither of the images is really made to scale, unless you're just going by height alone. Why can't the data just speak for itself without resorting to misleading graphics?? I'd say the numbers are shocking enough!
Stop eating bad food... yeah they cost more because they are better... thats why a ferrari costs more than a ford...
+Stephen Dodds the puzzling thing is how something with extra value added to it via processing costs less than fruits and vegetables which are essentially picked, washed, and transported to your local supermarket? When should the foundations of our diet be considered "premium" items?
@the guy whose family's eats like "crap" but have had extremely long lives, I agree with your point. Most of the health and diet studies have shown that even though diet plays a significant role in your health, especially when it comes to providing the right micro-nutrients, exercise plays an even larger role. If you eat healthy but do jack-squat, you'll be in a better situation than if you ate horribly and did nothing, but you won't be regulating your blood-sugar and your weight as well as somebody who eats junk-food but works their asses off with physical labor/exercise.
Its been clear to me for a long time that the government hasn't has my (or the general public for that matter) interests in mind
totally agree roland..:D
Grand. Netflix. Show. Mote. Wi fi. Why. 5 interbreeding. 19097538823

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