Why you shouldn't worry about Trump's food policy

February 22, 2017

It's been a while since we've mocked the Huffington Post for running a silly health story. But the new year brings plenty of opportunities, and this is the first one we'll take advantage of.


HuffPo is anxious in this case because of the Trump Administration's agriculture policy. Why, you ask?


Nutrition experts are glad the Trumps will keep the White House garden, but they fear food policy will wither under the meat-and-potatoes president.


President Trump will probably end up with a mixed record on science policy. He's made some good comments and some stupid comments, however what he's said thus far about food policy isn't worrisome; indeed there's some good science behind the changes the Trump administration is likely to make at the USDA.


Admittedly, The Donald has said little on the subject, except that his administration won't cheer lead for organic agriculture. HuffPo is bothered by this because it--well, they don't actually offer any sort of argument for why "a shift toward conventional, non-organic agriculture" is a problem. But If your concerns are affordable food for poor people, nutrition, and food safety, this shift shouldn't bother you, since the weight of the evidence suggests that conventional farming succeeds on all three points.




So food will be no less nutritious under the Trump Administration, but there's always climate change to complain about, and HuffPo has that front covered:


Trump’s choice as agriculture secretary, former Georgia Gov. Sonny Perdue, has raised concerns for dismissing climate change warnings as “a running joke,” despite the fact that farming is a major source of greenhouse gas emissions.


That's true but irrelevant, since the research shows that GMOs help us adapt to any threats posed by climate change, exaggerated though they may be. We know this because GM technology "...make[s] food crops higher yielding and more robust to biotic and abiotic stresses...against the background of increasing food demand, climate change, and land and water scarcity," according to this study and many others like it. 


Strike two.


But Trump ate lots of fast food on the campaign trail and his "diet in the White House mostly follows a 'steak-and-potatoes narrative,' says HuffPo. Surely this is a sign of trouble ahead because it reflects "the anti-intellectualism of the 1950s."


This is idiotic for two reasons. First, The Donald may not eat the healthiest diet in the world, but that says little about his policies. Second, the American diet in the 1950s was actually far healthier. Most Americans ate more healthy fats and far less sugar 60 years ago than they do today. If anything, we should welcome a throwback to the diet of the 1950s. 


The remaining few paragraphs of the article lament that Trump will probably cut funding for "community-supported agriculture (CSA) programs and farm-to-school initiatives" designed to get kids making healthier food choices. This sounds terrible, but these programs never work. Consumers simply ignore the advice to eat vegetables and opt for tastier options. That may be sad but it's reality.


On balance, it seems that food policy is one area where Trump is moving in the right direction. By staying out of the way, he's allowing scientists and farmers to do what they do best: find innovative ways to feed to the country. And That's far better than what his predecessor did.








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