May 18, 2014

BAYLEN LINNEKIN: What Fed Up Gets Wrong About the Food Industry; The new documentary Fed Up claims to shine a critical light on the food industry and the “obesity epidemic.” But it ignores the real culprit.

By my count, the first mention of federal farm subsidies or sugar protectionism doesn’t occur until nearly an hour into the 90-minute film. And it’s around this issue that I think Fed Up’s filmmakers commit their most grievous error—the misguided portrayal of former President Bill Clinton, Sen. Tom Harkin (D-HFCS), and USDA secretary Tom Vilsack as some sort of champions of healthy food. . . .

In 2006, Harkin bragged that “Iowa lead[s] the nation in corn and high fructose corn syrup production.”

So Tom Harkin is a hypocrite. Though that’s hardly unique here in Washington. Secretary Vilsack is equally ghastly when he talks about how he’s tried to rein in the food industry.

In 2011, for example, Matt Yglesias, then at ThinkProgress, wrote of Vilsack’s “unconvincing case for farm subsidies.” . . .

I found the parts of the movie that make the most sense and are most grounded in fact are those that lay blame at the hands of government policies and programs.

“The government is subsidizing the obesity epidemic,” says Michael Pollan partway into the movie.

But for every smart Pollan quote, there are at least a dozen absurd policy prescriptions.

Have you noticed that for every problem, we get the same prescriptions for empowering elites and raising taxes?

And somebody should sue the federal government over the Food Pyramid. Say, wasn’t Hillary Clinton involved in that?