Comparing Apples to Twinkies
by Craig Mosbaek, CHP Contributor
We’ve all heard the admonishment “comparing apples to oranges.” What about comparing apples to Twinkies?
CALPIRG and the U.S. PIRG Education Fund just released a report, Apples to Twinkies: Comparing Federal Subsidies of Fresh Produce and Junk Food. The research looked at the U.S. government agricultural subsidies from 1995-2010.
The subsidies for four food additives used in many low-nutrition, high-calorie foods - corn syrup, high fructose corn syrup, corn starch, and soy oils – amounted to almost $17 billion. In the same time period, the subsidies for apples were less than 2% of that amount, or $262 million. Apples are the only fresh fruit or vegetable that receive significant federal subsidies.
The next step in their analysis said, “If these agricultural subsidies went directly to consumers to allow them to purchase food, each of America’s 144 million taxpayers would be given $7.36 to spend on junk food and 11 cents with which to buy apples each year.”
Just to make things a little more concrete, they add, “enough to buy 19 Twinkies but less than a quarter of one Red Delicious apple apiece.”
Was this an effective use of numbers to make a point? Do you have other examples of creative ways to communicate numbers?