Two-thirds of American adults are obese or overweight, and economists from Cornell and Lehigh universities have estimated that obesity is now responsible for 17 percent of the nation's annual medical costs: about $168 billion a year.
African-Americans and Hispanics are more likely to be obese than non-Hispanic whites, and more likely to be poor.
Why should anyone, his accusers ask, listen to what Prince Charles has to say about agriculture?
That question has a simple answer: The Prince knows what he's talking about.
But there's no debate about the effects of pesticide exposure upon the 1 to 2 million migrant farm workers who harvest America's fruits and vegetables by hand. They have been carefully designed to kill insects, weeds, funguses, and rodents. The Environmental Protection Agency has estimated that every year, 10,000 to 20,000 farm workers suffer acute pesticide poisoning on the job -- and that's a conservative estimate.
For them, the need for organic food isn't an academic issue. Farm workers, their children, and the rural communities where they live are routinely exposed to these toxic chemicals.Young children and people of color are being hurt the most.During the past 40 years, the obesity rate among American preschoolers has doubled. Obesity has been linked to cancer, heart disease, and diabetes.It is overly centralized and industrialized, overly controlled by a handful of companies, overly reliant on monocultures, pesticides, chemical fertilizers, chemical additives, genetically modified organisms, factory farms, and fossil fuels. The real costs are much too high, and they are being imposed on some of the poorest and most vulnerable people in the United States.Organic food, for example, isn't just better for the soil and the land.The fast food chains and agribusiness companies are earning large profits, while shifting even larger costs onto the rest of society.The game has been rigged in favor of the powerful and well connected, at the expense of everyone else.He's been one of the few world leaders brave enough to say -- publicly, not just privately -- that the current system is unsustainable.In return for that honesty the Prince has been attacked on many occasions by defenders of the status quo.As upper-middle-class consumers increasingly seek out healthier foods, the fast food chains are targeting low-income, minority communities -- much like the tobacco companies did, when wealthy and well-educated people began to quit smoking. And when things aren't inevitable, that means things don't have to be the way they are.At Growing Power, an organization based in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, kids from the projects and the inner city are learning how to grow their own food.