North America's Strongest Union

The Politics Of Food In America

An increasing number of U.S. workers’ paychecks are growing smaller due to good-paying jobs being replaced by low paying ones. And that affects hardworking Americans and their families in many different ways.

It’s easy to see how less money in the bank could lead to having less money to cover housing or to spend at the store. But a new study shows it is also influencing the eating habits of the nation’s working poor. While U.S. adults overall are eating better now than they were in 1999, that’s not the case for those struggling to make ends meet.

An index of healthy eating released as part of the report shows that those on the lower end of the economic scale have fallen further behind those who earn more. That means they are eating less vegetables, fruits, whole grains and healthy fats than those who have more money, which in turn makes them more susceptible to heart disease, stroke and diabetes, among other ailments.

“The growing chasm in dietary quality by SES (socioeconomic status) confronts us with the possibility that the government efforts to mind this gap have been insufficient,” the study states. “It is disappointing that the improvement seen in those of higher SES was not seen in the lower-SES group.”

That’s not the only problem, however. The bad news for all Americans is that getting good food on the table could become an increasingly difficult chore. Trade deals like the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), for instance, will make it easier for Southeast Asian nations in particular to import unsafe seafood into the U.S.

Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.) has repeatedly sounded the alarm on the issue, saying it could endanger the health of millions of U.S. consumers. And she’s noted the issue seems to be getting worse, not better.

There are also concerns that the 12-nation trade agreement could force the U.S. to import meat and poultry that doesn’t meet current U.S. standards, as well as bar the labeling of genetically-modified foods. Those products, in turn, would end up on American dinner tables.

In an age when consumers increasingly understand the need to eat a healthier diet, it is a crime that more either cannot afford to or potentially could have their options limited due to cheap imported products that don’t meet U.S. safety standards. And it has got to stop.

Americans cannot sit by while low wages and lousy trade deals like the TPP become the new normal. Come November, they need to show their displeasure at the ballot box.

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