New York Times Columnist Calls For Food Tax To Subsidize Purchases Of Fruit And Vegetables

New York Times food columnist Mark Bittman wrote an editorial claiming the federal government should enact a food tax to reduce consumption of unhealthful foods and generate billions of dollars to subsidize the purchase of staple foods like seasonal greens, vegetables, whole grains, dried legumes and fruit.

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Editor’s Insight: This writer, Mark Bittman, believes that the government should raise taxes on unhealthy foods to subsidize “healthy” foods in order to change consumption habits. While he references various studies in this article, he presents no evidence that taxes affect consumers’ choices other than to cite researchers who make this claim with no evidence to support it.

He acknowledges that taxes on snacks and soda affect low income people disproportionately, but he claims that the corresponding decline in the price of healthier items will compensate for this.

He also claims that the long term result will be lower health care costs, but this is also based on the assumption that manipulative pricing will change behavior.

Bittman correctly notes and objects to the fact that taxpayers currently subsidize farmers for growing corn and soybeans to lower the cost of processed foods. 08-02-11 by Elliot Maras