Originally posted on
Meatless Monday: Broccoli and Affordable Health Care
In an old comedy routine, Mel Brooks plays a therapist who advises his patient, “Listen to your broccoli, and your broccoli will tell you how to eat it.”
I wish Justice Antonin Scalia’s broccoli would have a word with him. During the Supreme Court oral hearings about the Patient Protection and Affordable Health Care Act, he argued if the government can make you buy health insurance, it can make you buy broccoli. But buried in there is the implication that broccoli, like compulsory anything, is something unpleasant forced down our throats.
Your honor, I object.
I love broccoli. And Justice Scalia, so did your ancestors. The ancient Romans couldn’t get enough of it, developing new varietals, new shapes, new shades and one of the first known broccoli recipes. They didn’t eat broccoli because of some government mandate or because it was healthy — what did they know from folate? They ate it because it tasted good.
I understand not all Americans feel the broccoli love. But even you, sir, would argue with 70 percent of health care costs related to lifestyle and diet, we might not be facing upwards of $47 trillion in health care costs if we ate more broccoli and less beef.
The government can reward good behavior by subsidizing broccoli, lentils, kale, pumpkin — all the produce we know we should be eating, rather than subsidizing beef, no one’s idea of health food. How the government allocates the funding for our food system is a pivotal issue in the upcoming Farm Bill — one we should watch.
Putting farm subsidies into broccoli instead of beef may be the most affordable health care plan ever.
The truth is our broccoli has been talking to us all this time. We just need to start listening.