Replacing Food Stamps With Cash Is A Terrible Idea

GMO protest

Squaring off on the other side is a coalition of food manufacturers and seed producers that thus far has raised a war chest of $17.2 million. That’s a state record. The top five contributors were the Grocery Manufacturers Association, Monsanto, DuPont Pioneer, Dow AgroSciences and Bayer CropScience, according to the No on 522 Coalition. Those opposed to labeling say it will falsely mislead consumers into thinking that products that contain genetically engineered ingredients are “somehow different, unsafe or unhealthy,” said Brian Kennedy of the Grocery Manufacturers Association, a food industry group based in Washington, D.C. “I-522 is a complex, costly and misleading initiative that will raise grocery costs for Washington state consumers at a time when few can afford it,” he said. Genetically engineered crops have a gene from another plant inserted into them to give them some ability they didn’t have before. There are two common genetic modifications. One is for herbicide tolerance: Plants are given a gene that protects them from harm when a farmer sprays them with herbicides to kill weeds. The other is a gene from a soil bacteria called Bacillus thuringiensis that allows plants to produce their own insecticide. In the United States a huge proportion of commodity crops are genetically engineered: 97% of the nation’s sugar beets, 93% of the soybeans, 90% of the cotton and 90% of the feed corn, according to the 2013 figures from the U.S. Department of Agriculture. About 60% of the papaya grown in the United States, all in Hawaii, has been genetically engineered to allow it to withstand the ringspot virus, which virtually wiped out papaya production in the islands in the 1980s, according to International Service for the Acquisition of Agri-biotech Applications. Very small amounts of genetically engineered zucchini, yellow squash and sweet corn are also sold in the United States. Connecticut passed GMO labeling legislation in June, but it doesn’t go into effect until four other New England states pass labeling laws.

Food Prices: One Year After

What’s more, Yglesias says, the voucher system we now have breeds fraud and corruption, a standard plaint of Republicans. (In an amusing aside, he describes how some years ago he used to buy cigarettes — which can’t be purchased with the vouchers — for a neighbor who was on food stamps, who in turn bought him boxes of Diet Coke. Food-stamp fraud alert.) Hold on a minute. Studies suggest that fraud is modest, equal to about 1 percent of the program’s spending. That’s still a lot of money, but as a percentage of the total it’s minor. Furthermore, fraud has gotten harder ever since benefits have been issued on electronic-benefit transfer cards, which operate like debit cards at the grocery store. What’s more, drawbacks to doling out cash are real and fly in the face of the moral component of receiving a government benefit. Aid comes with strings attached as part of the goal of inducing behavior that’s deemed socially beneficial. That’s why food stamps can’t be used to buy tobacco or alcohol. If a cash handout is easier for a store to administer, the same is true for a cash benefit used to buy dope on the street. Yes, there is an element of paternalism in food stamps. Yet it’s hard to justify the government using taxpayer money to subsidize iPhone purchases instead of spending on a necessity such as food. And what about those parents who lack the discipline or willingness to make good decisions? Food stamps prevent them from shifting spending on food for their children to other less-essential goods.

Here’s how to read the nutrition facts panel and the food label. How to Read a Food Label Start at the top The first place to start when you look at the nutrition facts panel is the serving size and the number of servings in the container. In general, serving sizes are standardized in order to make it easier to compare similar foods; they are provided in familiar units, such as cups or pieces, followed by the metric amount, e.g., the number of grams. Be aware that the portion size suggested on the label may not coincide with the recommended serving size on health organization sites such as the USDA’s MyPyramid site. Overall, as you move down the nutrition facts panel, you’ll notice that the nutrients toward the top are ones to limit (such as total fat, saturated fat, cholesterol, etc.), and the nutrients towards the bottom (fiber, various vitamins) are the nutrients to focus on for better health. How to Read a Food Label Calories The label will list the number of calories per serving (again, be sure to check out the serving size, and try measuring out the portion). In general, the following calorie ranges apply to foods: Low calorie foods: Fewer than 40 calories per serving Moderate calorie foods: 100 calories per serving High calorie foods: More than 400 calories per serving How to Read a Food Label Total fat As an athlete, you need to consume some fat (really, there’s no need to be afraid of fat), but you don’t need to exist on fat alone. In general, approximately 25 percent of your calories comes from fat (the rest from carbohydrates and protein). Aim for most of your fats to come from plants, as the fat they supply is generally heart-healthy. In general, polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats are the best choices. How to Read a Food Label Saturated fat Design your diet so that less than 10 percent of your total calories comes from saturated fat.

How to Read Your Food Label

PHOTO: A shopper reads the label on a package of non-dairy creamer

The United Nations System also granted the issue high priority. The UN Secretary-General’s High-Level Task Force on Global Food Security repeatedly and energetically called for calm and coordination, contributing to contain price increases. The reformed Committee on World Food Security — that will session starting Monday October 7 — has proven its value as the most inclusive forum to discuss food security and, in a landmark achievement, endorsed last year the Voluntary Guidelines on the Responsible Governance of Tenure of Land, Fisheries and Forests in the Context of National Food Security . Among many other initiatives, last October FAO hosted a ministerial summit to discuss food prices, co-organized with the Government of France who played a leading role in establishing AMIS. In 2007-8, increased use of maize for biofuel production was pressuring food prices, excessive speculation on futures markets accentuated price volatility and panic buying and export restrictions led to prices spinning out of control. But, in 2012, these elements were generally controlled and good sense prevailed in markets. The importance of linkages between food and energy markets has been recognized and the costly biofuel policies implicated in pushing up food prices in recent years are being questioned in a number of countries, including the USA. In another change, widespread public outrage over excessive speculation with food prices led many banks to review their positions and made some of them publically renounce that practice. In fact, today, speculation on futures markets seems to have diminished and played little role in recent price volatility. It could, however, re-emerge depending on financial and monetary conditions, so we need to ensure that these markets are transparent and suitably regulated. Different ways to avoid excessive price volatility and to guarantee availability of food are also being discussed, with the setting up food reserves as an option. Does the current situation mean that our food price problems are over? No. International prices are still higher than their historical trend — higher than the peak in 2008, for example. On the other hand, regardless of price levels, excessive price volatility presents additional challenges, especially for small-scale farmers in developing countries with restricted access to financial mechanisms to contain the impacts of low or negative returns.