Give Now  »

wfiu logo
WFIU Public Radio

wtiu logo
WTIU Public Television

Choose which station to support!

Indiana Public Media | WFIU - NPR | WTIU - PBS

If You're Lactose Intolerant, Can You Survive On The USDA's Thrifty Food Plan?

When the government subsidizes corn, it effectively subsidizes dairy, too. Government nutrition programs push dairy as a cheap protein source, even though it doesn't make sense for most Americans, in particular, people of color. (Kayte Young/WFIU)

This week on Earth Eats, we look back to a conversation from earlier this year, with Angela Babb from Indiana University's Department of Geography. She talks about the conflict of interest inherent in the US Department of Agriculture's management of farm policy and government nutrition programs. She examines some of the contradictions between USDA recommended diets and what's actually affordable at the grocery store.

Angela Babb studies the USDA's Thrifty Food Plan, which is a cost-of-food calculation that determines the allotment for households receiving SNAP benefits. Babb suggests that the calculation needs to be revised so that families can afford healthier foods.

Babb also talks about dairy being subsidized by the USDA, through feed (corn) subsidies, and how the USDA Thrifty Food Plan relies heavily on milk as a significant source of cheap protein. The plan ignores the fact that many Americans are lactose intolerant and that people of color have high percentages of lactose intolerance compared with white populations (of European descent).

Next week, we bring Angela Babb back into the studio, to talk about the specifics of the Thrifty Food Plan, how the USDA makes its calculation, and some interesting obstacles she encountered in her research.


Also on the show, Harvest Public Media has a story about the difficulties of farmland transfer, and Chef Daniel Orr makes Pizza.

The Earth Eats' theme music is composed by Erin Tobey and performed by Erin and Matt Tobey.

Stories On This Episode

Handing Off: The Reality Of Land Transfer Between Older, Younger Farmers

As life expectancy increases, farmers are staying in the business, but there's still a need to plan for what happens when they die.

Support For Indiana Public Media Comes From

About Earth Eats

Harvest Public Media