How to Oversimplify, Big Mac Edition

Here’s a chart I found at My New Roots’ Facebook page. I don’t want to pick on them, if only because it looks like they have some delicious recipes to offer. I suspect they didn’t create it themselves, but passed it on to their fans.

This particular item appears to be an object lesson in oversimplification. The point is that subsidies to meat and dairy and grain producers make their products relatively cheaper, thereby lowering input costs for McDonald’s or other so-called restaurants, thereby making you fat by making terrible food so very cheap.

But subsidies aren’t the only factor that goes into the price of fast food. One, it’s harder to freeze fresh vegetables, especially seasonal vegetables, than it is to freeze meat, dairy or grains. Two, vegetable crop yields are less dependable than they are for dairy, grain and meat products. The fact is that fresh (read: extremely perishable) foods just tend to be a bit more expensive for large-scale uses at fast-food restaurants.

I appreciate the intention of the chart. Subsidies make bad foods easier to consume, and so they may well contribute to all sorts of ill health effects. This chart doesn’t make that point very well.

(As a side note, does anyone believe that the largest share of our diet should be made up of grain?)