June 5, 2007
David M. Snieckus
99 Crescent Street
Newton, MA 02466
To: Revenue Committee Members
Re: House Bill 2841
Dear Revenue Committee Member:
I have been involved with promoting healthy food as a way to maintain optimal health for over 25 years, and I am writing to present House Bill 2841 which if passed I believe would:
1. Generate needed revenue.
2. Create thousands of new jobs.
3. Address the epidemic of various chronic
4. Reduce the health care costs in Massachusetts.
As you likely know, there exists an enormous problem of spiraling health care costs. To quote Globe Staff writer Matt Carroll in an article entitled “Health Costs Soar, Squeeze Localities”, dated May 13, 2007:
“Health care spending for Massachusetts communities has nearly doubled since 2001, squeezing town budgets and forcing cutbacks in public safety and government services and leading to calls for property tax increases. Employee healthcare costs in cities and towns shot up about 85 percent, from an average $2.5 million to $4.7 million, from 2001 to 2006, according to a Globe analysis of budgets from 324 communities, using data from the Massachusetts Department of Revenue.”
There also exists an enormous problem regarding the overall health of the general public, which is driving these health care costs. For perspective, note the following Press Release:
COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) March 2, 2006_ “America's obesity epidemic will dwarf the threat of terrorism if the nation does not reduce the number of people who are severely overweight, the surgeon general said Wednesday.”
"Obesity is the terror within,'' Richard Carmona said during a lecture at the University of South Carolina. "Unless we do something about it, the magnitude of the dilemma will dwarf 9-11 or any other terrorist attempt.''
“Obesity rates have tripled over the past 40 years for children and teens, raising their risk of diabetes and other diseases. For the first time, Carmona said, children are being diagnosed with high blood pressure.”
We not only have an ENORMOUS problem regarding our health, we have a problem paying for it.
House Bill 2841 provides a solution to both. Allow me to explain.
I think we could all agree that there is a direct relationship between the food we eat and our health. For scientific evidence, read The China Study by T. Colin Campbell, PhD and Thomas M. Campbell, II, the most comprehensive study of nutrition ever conducted, and which concludes that a plant-based diet is the healthiest. “Change your diet and dramatically reduce your risk of cancer, heart disease, diabetes and arthritis.”
In Omnivore’s Dilemma, Michael Pollan, Journalist from Berkeley, CA, presents what only can be described as a national eating disorder. From the inside jacket, I quote: “What’s at stake in our eating choices is not only our own and our children’s health, but the health of the environment that sustains life on earth.” Page 243: “You can buy honestly priced foods or you can buy irresponsibly priced food.”
Closer to home, Dr. David Ludwig, founder of the “Optimal Weight for Life” program at Children’s Hospital in Boston, writes in his book, Ending the Food Fight:
“Some people argue that it’s unfair to blame the childhood obesity epidemic on an overabundance of fast food and fake food (1). The issue, they say, comes down to personal responsibility; parents are free to choose healthier foods and to teach their children to do the same. This is what the food industry wants us to believe. But in reality the situation is far more complicated. Expecting parents to exercise true freedom of choice in today’s toxic environment is like expecting someone being swept up in a tsunami to swim away. Regardless of how hard we try, we are overwhelmed by forces beyond our control.
One of these powerful forces is a food industry that puts profit over pounds, corporate wealth over children’s well being. Food companies pay advertising executives top salaries to convince children to consume the highest-calorie, lowest quality products imaginable. Studies clearly show that kids are more apt to nag their parents for the foods they see advertised on TV and less likely to eat unadvertised foods. And when was the last time you saw an ad for broccoli, zucchini, or cauliflower.
We could resist the insidious influence of advertising were it not for two realities of modern life. One is that these foods are everywhere: convenience stores, supermarkets, highway rest stops, playgrounds, and friends’ homes. Even so-called safe havens such as school offer no refuge. It’s just so easy, so convenient, so normal to choose fake food. Besides, many of them taste pretty good.
Biologically, humans are born with an innate preference for sugar, fat, and salt, nutrients necessary for infant growth. As children grow, their preferences normally broaden to include the complex range of tastes found in nature. If this were not the case, children long ago would have starved to death once they stopped breastfeeding.
Food manufactures exploit our survival mechanism by deliberating making their products extra-sweet, extra-fatty, or extra-salty, adding artificial flavor enhancers to make us crave them even more. Food companies incessantly advertise these products to children during a stage of life when they are highly susceptible to manipulation. The result is that taste preferences become arrested in an ‘infantilized’ state of development.”
“Nutritionally speaking, our kids have gotten in with the wrong crowd. Instead of eating foods that nourish them and help them maintain a healthy weight, they have befriended ‘fake food’. These foods are nutrient-poor and pack on the pounds. If they were people, we wouldn’t invite them into our homes or drive our children to play dates with them. We’d encourage our children to make real friends. But right now, many of us load up our kitchen cupboards with foods made in factories and drive our children to fast food restaurants.”
CURRENTLY: All food for human consumption is exempt from taxation, except alcohol and restaurant and take-out meals.
House Bill 2841 would remove that exemption for processed foods (2), including genetically modified foods (3), while maintaining the exemption for organic whole foods (4).
I propose that House Bill 2841 change exemption (h) in the tax Code 64H of The General Laws of Massachusetts as follows:
SECTION 1. Section 6 of Chapter 64H of the General Laws is hereby amended by striking out paragraph (h), as appearing in the 2004 Official Edition, and inserting in place thereof the following paragraph:
(h) Sales of food for human consumption. "Food'' is limited to organic whole foods, namely grains, whole dried beans, vegetables, fruits, seeds and nuts, herbs, and unrefined sea salt, when used for household consumption. "Food'' does not include processed foods, genetically modified foods, nor alcoholic beverages as defined in chapter one hundred and thirty-eight.
Passage of House Bill 2841 would:
1. Generate revenue to the State which I suggest not only pay for the health care costs in various municipalities, but be invested in whole foods businesses, (such as Organic Farmers, Organic Food Wholesalers, and Community Supported Agriculture (CSA’s)), as well as worthwhile causes that promote health, such as the education and training of citizens on how to select, cook and eat nutritious whole foods.
2. Create thousands of new jobs in the whole health foods industry.
3. Raise awareness of the importance of a
plant-based whole food diet.
4. Encourage the healthier consumption of plant-based
5. Discourage the consumption of harmful processed foods, including genetically engineered foods.
6. Promote health by empowering citizens of Massachusetts to make healthy food choices, resulting in greater health.
7. Reduce health care costs in Massachusetts by reducing the general public’s need for health care, namely doctor’s visits, drugs and medications, over the long term.
8. Empower the businesses of Organic Farmers, Organic Food Wholesalers and Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) that provide healthy food choices.
9. Further our planet’s health and well-being.
In an article in the January 4th, 2007 issue of the Boston Globe,
entitled: Health Costs Hit Town in Wallet, Marc V. Waldman, the
chairman of the West Suburban Health Group, and Wellesley’s
treasure/collector, said the following about the rising health care costs: “It’s absolutely killing us.” “We’re well beyond the breaking point.” However, he also goes on to say, “Unless there is a miracle!” Taxing all processed foods (removing the tax exemption on processed foods) may result in that miracle! Here’s how it could work.
According to NSpend, an Internet Food Statistic Provider, the average personal expenditure on processed food is $6,000. There are approximately 6 million people in Massachusetts. Impose a 5% tax on processed food purchases: that’s $300 per person per year. Multiply $300 by the number of people in Massachusetts, and the state would yield One Billion Eight Hundred Forty Million Dollars.
In addition to paying for the health care costs in various municipalities, these moneys could be invested in organic whole foods businesses and worthwhile causes that promote health through nutritious organic whole foods.
Proper food selection and eating will nourish us to optimal health. Improper food selection and eating will destroy us. Which choice will you endorse?
Ensure the passage of House Bill 2841 to help the citizens of Massachusetts and further our planet's health and well-being. Make the law work for us!
For more information, call me at 617-964-2951.
99 Crescent Street
Newton, MA 02466
· In 2006, Connecticut’s Governor Jody Rell agreed to sign a bill banning the sale of soda in all public schools statewide.
· The state of Arizona, one of the states most affected by childhood obesity, has banned the sale of junk food during school hours.
· Seattle, Philadelphia and San Francisco all have created stringent nutritional guidelines for vending machines and snack foods.
· The State of Texas has just banned fried foods and sugary foods from all its schools lunchrooms.
· Brookline, MA has just banned trans fats from the town’s restaurants and schools.
For more up to date National and State food policies and legislation check out: www.yaleruddcenter.org
(1) FAKE FOOD--- by Dr. David Ludwig, page 14, ENDING THE FOOD FIGHT. “Fake food --- highly processed products bearing no resemblance to anything found in nature --- fuels the battle between mind and metabolism. It is loaded with calories but devoid of real nourishment. It fills us up briefly but depletes us of vitamins, minerals, and other key nutrients our bodies need. Containing artificial flavors that mask its true tastelessness, fake food provides a momentary feeling of pleasure that quickly passes. Instead of satisfying our needs, it actually induces cravings and promotes overeating in our bodies’ desperate attempt to replenish those missing nutrients.”
(2) Processed food is a food that has been specially treated or changed. For more information, read Omnivore’s Dilemma, by Michael Pollan. Also go to: www.ravediet.com, which describes the relationship between diet and disease, and http://www.frif.com/new2006/odb.html to learn more about the industrialized production of food.
(3) Genetically modified food is a food product containing some quantity of any genetically modified organism (GMO) as an ingredient.
A Genetically modified organism is an organism whose genetic characteristics have been altered by the insertion of a modified gene or a gene from another organism using the techniques of genetic engineering.
For more information, go to: www.thefutureoffood.com
(4) Organic foods are foods that are produced using only naturally produced products. The production of organic foods does not use pesticides or synthetic (or sewage-based) fertilizers for plant materials (nor hormones and antibiotics for animals), does not allow genetic engineering or the use of radiation, and emphasizes the utilization of renewable resources as well as conservation of land and water.
Organic whole foods are plant-based foods that are produced using only naturally produced products.
Eating mostly organic whole foods insures consumption of the maximum amount of original natural nutrients, in the right proportions.
Conversely, fragmented foods or processed foods, include all foods that are missing some original parts, i.e. refined complex carbohydrates such as white flour and white rice, which are missing fiber and nutrients found in the whole grain; most sweeteners such as crystallized sugars, syrups, including corn syrup, concentrates, which are all missing water and nutrients; refined and deodorized oils and fats, which are missing various trace elements. Fragmented foods that have generally been considered healthful include juices and tofu, which are missing fiber; bran and wheat germ, which are missing starch; and vitamin supplements, which are missing macro nutrients and whatever micro nutrients they do not contain.