We need health-care reform because of predatory insurance companies, right? Well, yes, that's a big part of it. But maybe it should involve our collective national diet. Perhaps if we ate better foods we wouldn't be plagued with Type 2 diabetes, heart conditions, and other preventable health disorders that cost billions of public and private dollars to treat.
Why don't Americans eat better foods? Look at agriculture policies that encourage overproduction of super-processed foods and imported produce that makes junk cheaper than healthy alternatives. Michael Pollan's recent New York Times editorial addresses the connection between agribusiness and ealth care, connecting the dots between government policy favoring corporate farming and our nation's current state of (un)health.
Surprisingly, his overall tone is positive. Pollan concludes that if we do pass a health-care bill of some sort, it will indirectly affect how we eat. If insurance companies are forced to accept people regardless of preexisting conditions, wouldn't it be in these companies' best interest to prevent such conditions? And as we have seen, that which is in the best interests of insurance companies is difficult to put asunder. Their lobbying power rivals that of the strongest in the nation: agribusiness! What a stand-off that would be...
Slow Food USA is circulating a petition calling for changes in the Child Nutrition Act, which is up for reauthorization this month. These would (slightly) increase the amount of money the government earmarks for public school lunch programs, encourage public school systems to buy more locally grown and healthy foods, and teach children healthy eating habits. You can read Slow Food USA's proposals here.
Let's hope whatever reform bill we end up with encourages the insurance industry to reevaluate its stance on government policy affecting food and agriculture. This change, combined with changes in the way we feed our public school students, should indeed lead to a healthier America.