There can be little doubt that we are in the middle of a health crisis in the United States and it is rapidly being exported to the rest of the world. Obviously there is no simple solution to a very complex problem, but I would like to propose, at least, a start.
King for a Day
One of my favorite podcasts is Mark Hyman's The Doctor's Farmacy. In this podcast, he interviews well known figures in the areas of functional medicine, nutrition, health, and spirituality. One question Dr. Hyman always asks each guest is, "If you were King/Queen for a day, what is the one policy you would like to enact to have the greatest impact?" As I listen to his podcast, I like to think about how I would answer that question.
In a recent episode with Dr. Dariush Mozaffarian, I was very intrigued by Mozaffarian's answer to this question. Since listening to the episode, I have been thinking more and more about this. So I decided to write out my answer this question in this week's blog. If I were King for a Day, this would be my "executive order."
My Executive Order
Date: September 26, 2018
Executive Order Number 1
Title: Overhaul of Health and Nutrition Policy
The following measures are to be implemented immediately:
- All government subsidies for corn, wheat, soy, and dairy will be immediately terminated.
- All pasturing of animal livestock on government and public lands will be immediately terminated.
- The funds that were previously used to subsidize wheat, corn, soy, and dairy will be used to create farmer subsidies for organic, non-GMO green vegetables, fruits, and root vegetables. In particular, government assistance would be given to those farmers who wanted to change from the production of wheat, corn, soy, or dairy to the production of organic, non-GMO green vegetables, fruits, and root vegetables.
- All tax cuts for the production of processed foods will be eliminated.
- All sweetened carbonated soda (where sweetened with sugar or a substitute) will be taxed at $0.05 per fluid ounce.
- All processed foods will face a federal tax of 1% of the retail price.
- All processed foods that contain added sugar will face a federal tax of 3% of the retail price.
- The funds from the soda and processed foods taxes will go into a fund that may only be used for nutritional education and assistance with healthy lifestyle change
- Income tax deductions will be created in the tax code for activities that support health and exercise. Examples include yoga classes, gym memberships, nutrition classes, etc.
King for a Day
While I know there is very little likelihood of this actually happening because it would be violently opposed by the medical establishment, big pharma, big food, big soda, and the agriculture lobby. However, I do think it is a system that would in time allow these industries to continue to do business, just under a more healthy and sustainable model. The only way to make this work is to involve big business and allow them to continue to be profitable.
The problem that we see right now is that almost all of the big players are rewarded for keeping us sick. Obviously, big pharma and the medical establishment makes more money if the general population is chronically ill. Currently, big food is rewarded with tax breaks for producing highly processed, unhealthy food that contributes to diabetes and obesity. Likewise, farmers, both small and industrial, are rewarded for producing crops that are designed primarily to feed animals rather than humans. In addition, their subsides support wheat, corn, soy, and dairy which contribute to many chronic diseases.
Therefore, my solution is to simply flip the rewards. If we can reward these industries for keeping us healthy rather than keeping us sick, they will be motivated to do so. While we may never be able to make this palatable for big pharma and big medicine, we can certainly do this for other industries.
I would love to hear your ideas either in the comments or by contacting me directly.