Annals of Health Law
HOW TO REGULATE TOXIC FOODS
per serving. Increased taxes will likely encourage manufacturers to limit
the amount of added sugar per serving in their processed foods. And even
if they do not limit the sugar content, the increased price will shift
consumer-purchasing patterns to lower priced healthier products.215 In fact,
those healthy products should also be subsidized through government
spending.216 The targeted use of taxing and spending can significantly
reduce consumers’ added sugar consumption.
B. Regulating Food
While sugar is toxic in itself, some of the challenges associated with it
are symptomatic of a much larger problem. Added sugar is a symptom of a
generally unhealthy food supply.217 To adequately address the problem of
the food supply, we must engage in an honest assessment of what created it.
First, farm bill food subsidies result in the overproduction of corn and other
subsidized crops.218 They occupy so much of the agricultural landscape that
we would have to “more than double our fruit and vegetable acreage” to
satisfy the USDA’s recommended daily allowance of these items.219 The
government, like the medical profession, should first “do no harm,” yet
farm subsidies do a lot of harm. When we subsidize corn, it becomes
attractive not only for farmers to over-produce but also for manufacturers to
over-use in food processing, because the large supply reduces the price.
The farm bill encourages agricultural growing patterns that are a disservice
to consumers because the food supply becomes inundated with products
made, for example, with high fructose corn syrup.220
Our food system is fundamentally broken. A few companies
dominate the market, prioritizing profits over people and our
planet. Government policies put the interests of corporate
agribusiness over the livelihoods of farm families. Farm workers
toil in unsafe conditions for minimal wages. School children lack
access to healthy foods—as do millions of Americans living in
216. See generally, Atwell, supra note 55, at 3.
217. For example, approximately eighty percent of the 600,000 food products examined
by Dr. Larry Popkin are laced with sugar. Here’s the Thing, supra note 112. Any major
grocery store will have far more shelf space for processed food products than whole foods
like meats, fruits and vegetables. Ted Bendixson, Get Rid of Processed Food at the Grocery
Store, SLATE, Feb. 22, 2011, available at http://hive.slate.com/hive/time-to-trim/get-rid-of-processed-foods-at-the-grocery-store.
218. See supra notes 85-87 and accompanying text.
219. Mark Bittman, Local Food: No Elitist Plot, N. Y. TIMES, Nov. 1, 2011, available at
220. For a Healthier Country, Overhaul Farm Subsidies, SCI. AM., Apr. 19, 2012,