Earth Eats: Real Food, Green Living

The New Bill Clinton: Fit, Lean And … Vegan?

This week Bill Clinton discusses his vegan-based diet, the cost of cheap meat is revealed, and food programs are actually receiving some federal grants.

Bill Clinton

Photo: Smithsonian Photographer

Bill Clinton - a vegan advocate?

Once a notorious fan of burgers, junk food and other standards of the American Diet, Bill Clinton has recently become a poster child of sorts for whole foods. Although he occasionally eats fish, Clinton has traded his processed sugars and packaged foods for a plant based diet in the wake of serious concerns raised in February about his heart’s health.

The 42nd president’s eating change isn’t just about the 24 pounds he lost. Kristin Wartman of Civil Eats writes:

Clinton’s shift in thinking about the foods he eats seems to be indicative of a greater movement underway. Although his change was born out of necessity, we can only hope that he will serve as a role model to others hoping to avert catastrophic events like bypass surgery.

Thanks to Clinton’s popularity and public presence (including his promotion of his diet change on CNN), he may serve as a powerful rallying point for widespread awareness of the benefits of whole foods. In a country where the obesity epidemic is on the rise and nearly 900 Americans die daily from causes related to heart diseases, public support of a healthy diet is more important than ever.

The Real Cost Of Cheap Meat

Americans have found a way to pay less for food than ever before. U.S. Department of Agriculture estimates that Americans spent just 9.5% of their disposable income on food. This is a lower percentage than in any country in the world.

Organizations, like the Iowa Egg Farms, were reviewed by Congress this week. Such organizations raise and feed as many animals with as few resources as possible, which keeps the cost of meat very low.

As reported by the Chicago Tribune: “We have found the most efficient way to meet consumer demand for a high-quality, relatively inexpensive product,” said Dave Warner, spokesman for the National Pork Producers Council in Washington, D.C. “We’re the lowest-cost producer in the world, which is why we’re the No. 1 pork exporter in the world.”

However, some argue that the real cost of this factory farm model is its inability to be sustainable and its negative effects on health, the environment and local economies. The links to health issues like the salmonella outbreak, the environmental costs of cleaning up excessive amounts of manure and methane gas, and the deprived income from small farms and local economies, added altogether, the true cost of cheap meat might be more than some are willing to pay.

USDA Announces $1.5 Million In Grants For Food Research Programs

Protesting Europeans will tell you all about government spending cuts, so it’s nice to hear that positive government programs are receiving some funding now and again. The United States Department of Agriculture just announced that it will award $1.5 million dollars to programs that improve food and nutrition assistants.

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack explains, “The awards we are announcing today include innovative projects that focus on ‘weekend hunger’ among school children, and on the issue of families’ access and proximity to retail food outlets.”

The list of recipients includes a number of universities such as Cornell University, Georgia State University, and the University of Michigan. Yale University walked away with the largest grant of $265,000 for a project which will study the amount of fruits, vegetables, whole grains and lower fat milk purchased in the Women-Infants-Children (WIC) program.

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Julie Rooney

Julie Rooney is a vegetarian, musician, and artist who primarily works in video and new media. Currently she is the director of Low Road Gallery, a non-profit contemporary art gallery located in Greencastle, Indiana.

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  • Tonywims

    Meat is subsidized. Our food isn't cheap, we just pay for it in taxes.

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