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Twinkies Are Cheaper Than Carrots: Here’s Why


Most of us know by now that eating too many Twinkies is unhealthy. Additionally, with 39 ingredients made into one little snack cake, it should cost considerably more than a carrot you simply grow and pull out of the ground, right? Not so fast.

I’m about to bring up farm subsidies, but don’t run away! It’s actually quite interesting. I fell asleep in economics class as well, but that’s because they failed to make realistic and interesting comparisons such as the price of a carrot to the price of a Twinkie, like they do so well in the embedded video from CALPIRG below.

The gist of it is that back in the 1940s when farms were family businesses, the government gave them tax dollars to help their crop production through poverty, drought and other conditions that were putting them at risk of going out of business. Over time, me farms went from family businesses to large corporations, with those who created the largest amounts of crops receiving the most amount of subsidies. Eventually, only 4% of farms were receiving more than half of the subsidized dollars. Sound imbalanced? That’s because it is.

The highly subsidized farms grow large amounts of corn, which is used to create corn meal, corn syrup, high fructose corn syrup, corn flower, cornstarch, partially hydrogenated corn oil, and other ingredients used in cheap, processed food such as Twinkies. Out of the 39 ingredients in a Twinkie, 12 of them are subsidized. This means you, the taxpayer, have essentially paid for the production of the Twinkie before even buying it at the store.

These subsidies are part of the reason why it’s so cheap to eat so badly. Nearly one-third of a Twinkie’s ingredients are subsidized, while a carrot yanked from the ground has zero subsidized ingredients.

These subsidies, ranging from $10-30 billion in distribution a year, make processed foods made from subsidized corn meal unimaginably cheap. According to CALPIRG, a 2,000-calorie diet consisting solely of junk food would cost only $3.52 a day. Junk foods processed with high fructose corn syrup and other cheap ingredients made from subsidized crops are leading to heart disease, diabetes and obesity. One in five children between ages 6 to 11 are obese, and one in three kids since the year 2000 are on track for diabetes.

The statistics speak for themselves. Government subsidies are essentially supporting obesity and diabetes in adults AND children. Shouldn’t these funds be distributed amongst farmers who are growing vegetables, fruits and whole grains rather than those who are harvesting Twinkies and Little Debbie Snack Cakes? Maybe then, a bag of carrots will cost less than a tank of gas.

If you’d like to help make a change, CALPIRG offers a simple way to send a letter to your senators, asking to end subsidies on unhealthy foods. For more information on farm subsidies, there is information available on the Environmental Working Group website. Over time, we can only hope more people will catch on and make an effort to give healthy vegetable farmers the funds they need to grow plentiful, inexpensive, organic crops.

Via mnn.com
Image CC licensed by Like_the_Grand_Canyon

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Peter T

    The subsidies paid by the US government to US farmers & the restrictions to truly free trade that have been built into the many US FTA are the greatest challenges facing the development of world trade & a return to growth. If the US was to cut farm subsidies and abolish many aspects of what is termed “Middle Class Welfare” she could turn around her economy in years not decades. Come on America we non Amercians need you to get back to basics, stop blaming the Europeans, the Chinese and so on and get on getting healthy.

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  • Liamg_uw

    Some years ago, my father decided to do an experiment: keep a twinkie, sealed in its wrapper, and see how long it lasts. It’s probably been there for almost a decade, and shows no signs of decomposition.

    If my father had tried this with a carrot, I suspect that the results would be different.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_DM5TIWDBPMB2X2CXJ6HDKBFH64 Rohit

    And you point is what? Twinkie is a junk food and has nothing that can benefit you in the long run. Preservatives, chemicals and corn syrup. If you are happy that a twinkie lasts longer than a natural food, you might as well be happy to eat rocks, which last longer than twinkies.

  • Barry Spencer

    Twinkies cost $3.06 per lb. Carrots cost $0.37 per lb. 

    So the premise, that Twinkies are cheaper than carrots, is nonfactual. In fact, Twinkies are more than eight times the price of carrots.

    Twinkie price per lb calculated from Amazon.com price of $5.75 for one package of 20 count 1.5 ounce Twinkies. http://www.amazon.com/Hostess-Twinkies-individually-wrapped-twinkies/dp/B0027AR7RU)

    Carrot price according to USDA reported average advertised retail price for loose carrots, week of 28 February 2012. http://www.ams.usda.gov/mnreports/fvwretail.pdf

  • http://www.the9billion.com/ John Johnston

    Is comparing by weight relevant? What if you compared it by calories instead? 2000 calories of junk food costs a lot less than 2000 calories of healthier food, right? 

  • David Collins

    It does, but if people only ate 2000 calories of junk food we wouldn’t have an obesity epidemic. 13 twinkies is 2000 calories, but wouldn’t fill you up. The problem isn’t price, it’s that twinkies taste better.

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