Michael Pollan wrote a thought-provoking op-ed in the September 9 issue of The New York Times. His theory, according to the article entitled Big Food vs. Big Insurance, is that healthcare reform will have a profound effect on our quality of food.
His proof: a report by the Centers of Disease Control and prevention that says three-quarters of health care spending is on diseases and conditions that are preventable. Three-quarters. We’re fatter, we eat crappy food, and we don’t take care of ourselves, so we get sick. And the majority of the insurance companies and medical professionals don’t care. Big pharma, who creates medicines to cure things like diabetes and asthma certainly doesn’t. Insurance companies, Pollan points out, can just purge those who get sick, and don’t have to accept those who already are. Doctors love it. They get to see you, prescribe medicine, and charge the insurance companies for tests you probably didn’t need anyway.
Once health care reform goes through, however, and insurance companies have to pay for all those sick people, something will change. They will pay for people to take care of themselves. More importantly, they will go after the food manufacturers who are helping to make everyone sick in the first place.
My maternal grandmother died of pancreatic cancer. It was swift and evil and sad. While no one has figured out what causes pancreatic cancer, my mom will tell you that it was the tiny saccharine tablets she poured into her coffee every morning. Maybe it was. Or maybe it was just all the food additives, preservatives, and garbage that she — like all of us –was eating on a daily basis.
I don’t eat food dyes anymore; I try and avoid preservatives and chemicals in my food. To keep chemical-free I have to read a lot of labels, and avoid some of my favorite pre-packaged foods. If Pollan is correct, though, in a few years I won’t have to spend so much time policing my food because the insurance companies are going to do my job for me. They are going to start lobbying to get all the garbage out of our food supply. It’s just sad that it won’t happen until someone threatens their bottom line.