ND Department Of Agriculture Wasting Tax Dollars On Farm To School Program
This is such a joke:
BISMARCK, N.D. – With about a quarter of North Dakota’s children ages 10 to 17 overweight, getting a nutritious school meal is critical. Two-thirds of school children get about one-third of their total calories from a lunch through the National School Lunch Program, and that food travels on average between 2500 and 4000 before reaching their plates.
The Center for Rural Affairs, along with the North Dakota Department of Agriculture and the National Farm to School Network, are partnering to hold a workshop later this month in Valley City to teach local school officials how to take advantage of local producers for food products. John Crabtree, spokesman for the Center, says there is a double purpose.
“The idea is obviously to make our kids’ school lunches more nutritious, but to also create economic opportunities for local farmers to provide produce and things like that directly to school kitchens.”
Crabtree notes that roughly 25 percent of North Dakota children are obese. He says this workshop will connect food service directors with local farmers who can provide fresh, healthy food to students.
There is so much inaccuracy going on in this article that I don’t even know where to start.
First, the idea that 1/4th of North Dakota kids are too fat is patently absurd, and no doubt a result of the government’s use of the flawed body mass index method for determining obesity.
Second, the idea that there’s some sort of nutritional benefit to using food grown locally is also absurd. Usually, this push to cut down on the number of miles food is shipped is based on the idea food shipped fewer miles is better for the environment. Fewer carbon emissions and all that. But a tomato is a tomato, whether it’s grown 10 miles from where it’s consumed or 1,000. And there’s actually very little nutritional benefit to eating “organic” foods that are grown locally.
But there is most definitely a great deal of additional cost to buying locally-grown and/or “organic” foods. Organic foods are often grown without the benefit of fertilizers and pesticides that drive down the cost of producing food. And there’s a reason why we often buy food from far away. It’s called economics. Food is often cheaper to produce in other parts of the country, even when the cost of shipping it hundreds, sometimes thousands, of miles is factored in.
Can we really afford, especially in this day in age, to pay more for school lunches out of some touchy-feely notion that local food is better food?
Lastly, this is really more about protectionism than nutrition or event he environment. Heavy agriculture subsidies put in place by “rich” countries like the United States and other global leaders distort ag markets to the detriment of agriculture producers in other parts of the world. This push for “local food” is aimed at propping up that regime, and it’s wrong.
Markets should be global. Consumers, whether they be buyers for school lunch programs or individual citizens, should be able to choose from a wide selection of options from all over the world. Not limited to local producers.
Agrarian societies are a thing of the past, and for good reason. In most places in the world, there aren’t and cannot be enough local producers to meed local food demand. That’s because our global economy has evolved past being one where most people are engaged in growing food. We’ve evolved into a society where only a small sliver of the population grows the food, freeing up the rest of us to pursue things like scientific research, art, professional sports, engineering, inventing, entrepreneurship and all the other wonderful things humans do.
This push for “local food” is a push a push to turn back the clock on our economy.Tags: ag subsidies, local food, national farm to school network, national school lunch program, north dakota department of agriculture, North Dakota News