News Note: WIC Gets an Overhaul (It’s a Mixed Bag)

The government has finally gotten around to giving a damn for disadvantaged women and children. It only took Uncle Sam 30 years. WIC is getting a long-overdue overhaul. The good news: fruits and vegetables are on the menu. It stuns me that produce wasn’t a priority before; in the world’s richest country, things like developmental defects, rickets, bad teeth and poor brain development ought to strike shame in all of us. But then again, seeing as how Uncle Sam considers produce to be a “specialty” crop and direct subsidy funds to corn, chemicals, soybean oil, milk and factory meat instead, I guess we shouldn’t be surprised. I’m glad WIC is getting the overhaul; the dairy and meat crowd, understandably, is not pleased. (I’d be displeased by this as well, except for the fact that the sort of animal protein tossed WIC’s way is hardly desirable.) My issue with WIC is the misguided emphasis on whole grains. That’s right: the overhaul is introducing more grains into the program. Hey, guys, didn’t you get the memo? We did grains in the 80s, back when we believed your diatribes against fat.

…Except it’s nearly 2008, and Uncle Sam is still lagging behind. Sam, try laying off the soda and pasta and see how you do. Pulling your head out of the sand also apparently helps.

MykIR Flickr Photo

Further Reading:

New Nutrition Labeling System Still Has Flaws

How Safe is Our Food?

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Mark Sisson is the founder of Mark’s Daily Apple, godfather to the Primal food and lifestyle movement, and the New York Times bestselling author of The Keto Reset Diet. His latest book is Keto for Life, where he discusses how he combines the keto diet with a Primal lifestyle for optimal health and longevity. Mark is the author of numerous other books as well, including The Primal Blueprint, which was credited with turbocharging the growth of the primal/paleo movement back in 2009. After spending three decades researching and educating folks on why food is the key component to achieving and maintaining optimal wellness, Mark launched Primal Kitchen, a real-food company that creates Primal/paleo, keto, and Whole30-friendly kitchen staples.

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3 thoughts on “News Note: WIC Gets an Overhaul (It’s a Mixed Bag)”

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  1. I’d just like to point out – being on the WIC program myself, that many things that were needed, weren’t provided by WIC because they were available through ‘free grocery’, which is where people go to the stores, and pick up produce that’s been in the store for ‘too long’ even though it’s perfectly fine. It’s not necessarily the program itself, its just the people found that there were more needs for groceries that don’t get out of the store as fast, and are available to people in need by way of the WIC program.
    It’s a great program, and it’s good it’s advancing, but still there are other programs that incorporate themselves to make sure people who can’t afford much still are able to lead healthy diets and lives.

  2. Unhealthy food is an epidemic in the junior highs and grade schools. Government needs to be pushed in a positive direction for some real answers.

  3. My issue with WIC is the misguided emphasis on whole grains. That’s right: the overhaul is introducing more grains into the program.

    I went to the USDA’s WIC website and skimmed through a long report on the proposed new food guidelines and the process by which they were established. There were a fair number of foods allowed under WIC: canned fish, eggs, milk, cheese, peanut butter, legumes, and breakfast cereal. Allowable quantities of other items were reduced to make room for the two new categories: fruits and vegetables and whole grains. Given the variety of allowable foods, I’d hardly say that WIC “emphasizes grains.” WIC guidelines are quite specific, with minimum whole grain and fiber content requirements and a prohibition on foods with added sugars, fats, and sodium. Since added fats are usually rancid vegetable fats, this is a good thing.

    The monthly produce allowance is $6 for a child, $8 for an adult. I spend more than that in one week buying kale, collards, brussel sprouts, cabbage, onions, and apples at my local farmers’ market. I’d have a tough time stretching those few dollars even on frozen peas, carrots, and beans.

    Revised WIC still does not include meat, and pastured meats would be prohibitively expensive anyway. Little or no meat is better than factory farm meat. Even whole grains are better than factory farm meat.

    We also have to consider the diverse cultural backgrounds of many WIC participants. Hispanics make up only 6% of our community yet comprise about a quarter of the local food bank recipients, and I would guess that the WIC rolls have a similar demographic. A traditional diet includes rice, beans, and tortillas. It may not be ideal, but it is far healthier than eating frankenfood concoctions with ingredient lists as long as my arm.