Former Ag Secretary John Block –

Hello everybody out there in farm country. This radio commentary is brought to you by the Renewable Fuels Association, Monsanto, and John Deere. They are all friends, supporters, and allies of a healthy farm economy and prosperous rural America. Thank you.
And now for today’s commentary—

Just this week on Tuesday, May 15, we celebrated the establishment of the U.S. Department of Agriculture. President Abraham Lincoln signed the legislation 150 years ago. It has been a very successful 150 years. Our citizens enjoy the most reasonably priced, safest, and best tasting food in the world. We need to continue to serve up that kind of abundance as we look to the future.

There is one undesirable side effect of cheap, delicious food – obesity. I have visited countries all over the world and you won’t find any obesity problem in the poor countries. Food there is too expensive.

We have a paradox here in the U.S. that defies any solution – obesity on one hand and hunger on the other. However, according to an op ed in the New York Times newspaper, obesity is a far more serious problem. In New York City schools, 40 percent of the children are overweight while only 2 percent aren’t getting enough food.

This country is very generous in making food available. All of the New York schools have a cafeteria where the children can get breakfast if they don’t get any at home. Of course, we know all the schools serve lunch. Until recently, the schools in New York were also serving breakfast in the classroom (BIC Program). Add to all of that the fact that now we have 46 million people on food stamps. I would suggest that we have gone too far.

The abundance of free, delicious food is contributing to our obesity problem.

I confess that I don’t have an acceptable solution. I have suggested in the past that the schools could weigh the kids. If they are overweight, send them to the salad bar. No biscuits and gravy for them. That doesn’t get very much support.

There is no easy answer. We don’t want to be a poor country that is “food insecure” but with skinny citizens. At the same time, if we keep eating our delicious food and watching television, we’re going to get fat.

Maybe you have some answers.

In closing, I would encourage you to access my website which archives my radio commentaries dating back 10 years and will go back 20 years when complete. Check on what I said back then. Go to

Until next week, I am John Block in Washington. is dedicated to serving the agricultural industry in the Carolinas and Virginia with the latest ag news, exclusive regional weather station readings, and key crop market information. The website is a companion of the Southern Farm Network, provider of daily agricultural radio programming to the Carolinas since 1974. presents radio programs, interviews and news relevant to crop and livestock production and research throughout the mid-Atlantic agricultural community.