Sunday, June 1, 2008

Just Plain St00pid

I'm going to preface by saying I don't know how WIC works. I don't know if it works like a cash account and purchase decisions are left up to the program subscriber, or, alternately, that each subscriber is entitled to a certain alotment (ration) of various goods on a schedule. I do understand the logic of only allowing certain items to be purchased under the program to prevent the system being exploited to purchase non-food and luxury food items.

That said, no matter which way the program works, someone ought to really rethink what they heck the purpose of the WIC program is and how Michigan is managing its program. I assume that the point of explicitly blocking organic products is to control the costs to the program, under the assumption that organic products tend to cost more than the equivalent conventional item. But really, to make rules for a program designed to benefit disadvantaged low-income women and children that prevents them from making their own determination of healthy choices is, as I said above, st00pid.

As Tom Philpott explains on GristMill, in many cases, the products that are banned from the program are likely to have better nutritional content, nevermind lower residues from pesticides, herbicides and other related chemicals. He follows up on these points with some examples of cost differences, and in some cases, lower costs are possible with organic.