I had hoped to bring about world peace as I promised last month, but this can't waitby Julian Gough / June 4, 2009 / Leave a comment
I had hoped to bring about world peace as I promised last month, but this can’t wait.
The inflicting of a famine on one’s people for a political purpose is always painful, but sometimes necessary, as the Soviet, Chinese and US governments all found in the 20th century. The Great American Famine has been by far the most successful and long-running. But its costs now outweigh its benefits and it should be ended.
The background to the Great American Famine is often misunderstood. At the height of the cold war, it was clear that America’s leadership class needed the best of food—and extra vitamins, minerals and enzymes—to keep ahead of the Russians. Leadership is exceptionally draining. Feeding king and peasant the same cheese and bread was a typically inefficient old world practice. Why, it was practically communism.
And so food, like the old-fashioned mortgage, was sliced and diced into tranches. During the 1950s and 1960s, this worked merely at the level of the animal. The meat ended up on restaurant tables in Manhattan and Washington DC. The fat, eyeballs and hooves were minced into the burgers of the poor. But American ingenuity soon worked its way down to the level of the molecule. The high-value vitamins and minerals now ended up in organic power bars in Upper East Side delis. What’s left was the all-American “empty calorie”: white flour, white sugar, corn syrup.
But empty calories aren’t just empty; they are negative. Meals that contain zero nutrients still require processing by your body, which requires you to use up vitamins, minerals and enzymes that are not being replaced by the meal. Eating more starves you faster. Now, normally you eat until you’ve got all the stuff your body needs. Then, sated, you stop. But if you haven’t eaten all the stuff you need to function, then your body orders you to keep eating.
This insight was the breakthrough the US needed to solve two pressing problems. First, poor people, whose existence in America has always been problematic (and possibly unconstitutional).
Second, way too much corn. US corn production had been held artificially high since the 1950s, to ensure food sufficiency in a nuclear war—as it still is. (You can’t be too careful.) But massively subsidised, forced over-production created a peacetime glut. America found a solution; use the poor to dispose of the corn. This had the added benefit of…