Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Sonny, Don't Blow Up the Kids!

In my previous post, I referred to rising U.S. food prices and included a link to the latest monthly data as evidence. Critical readers may have questioned whether that supported the idea that we are seeing food price outpace inflation over any significant period of time, rather than just the latest month. You may research it yourself or take my word for it, but I took the PPI data from the BLS pages and compared the cumulative food price rise to core inflation over the 7+ years of data given and determined that food prices have, indeed, risen faster than inflation by 0.2 percent - not enough to even notice, but my statement stands. I could have researched CPI data and come up with slightly different results, but since my initial reference was based on producer prices, PPI should be adequate for this discussion.

The global picture is much more stark. Using data from the UN Food and Agriculture Organization, it is easy to see from this graph that, since around 2000, food prices have risen faster than inflation by around 25% ! The yellow line factors inflation in and shows that the world has undergone a reversal from decreasing real food prices in the last part of the 20th century to increasing food prices in this century. The gyrations of the past decade very likely correlate to oil price swings.

The near-term effect of more costly food will be a gradual shift to cheaper food, with resultant effects on health. The Blowhard administration is ahead of the curve in cultivating a taste among the less privileged for cheap eats. Early this month they rolled back federal requirements for schools to limit sodium and include more whole grains in their meals. The disingenuous argument from Sonny Perdue that kids won't eat the healthier foods ignores the matter of kids being more malleable than adults, so, compared to other groups, kids are the best candidates for healthy meals. More importantly, experts tell us that "eating behaviors established in childhood lay the foundation for eating habits throughout life, and of course for health."

The Green Party cares about our children possibly more than any other political party. While fighting hard to preserve an external environment where future generations can hope to survive and thrive after us elders have departed, Greens also want to give those children a healthy internal start. In their platform, the Green Party calls for more regulation of school meals:
Provide healthy school meals that are rich in vitamins, minerals, protein and fiber, and offer plant-based vegetarian options. Support Farm-to-School programs that provide food from local family farms and educational opportunities. 
Ban the sale of soda pop and junk food in schools. Junk food is defined as food or beverages that are relatively high in saturated or trans fat, added sugars or salt, and relatively low in vitamins, minerals, protein and fiber.
So it costs a little more. Soon, probably a lot more. Good nutrition now will give our kids the strong bodies they need to handle a future with physical demands far greater than in the days of ubiquitous fossil-fueled assistants.

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