Published on April 28th, 2014 | by Todd Smekens1
Are We Transitioning To a New Economy?
MUNCIE, Indiana – The healthcare industry is undergoing major changes going far beyond the nonsense we’re told about on nightly news or by conservative radio hosts. The food industry is also seeing profound changes from how it’s grown to what we consume. Consumers and citizens are tired of waiting on politicians to make the right policy decisions, knowing the status quo has won out for decades. These trail blazers, proactive entrepreneurs, and socially driven consumers are molding what some refer to as an underground economy, while still others refer to it as the “new economy”.
We’ve talked plenty on Muncie Voice about the advantages of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) which has enrolled close to 14 million people this year in affordable and portable health care insurance. We would have preferred a health care option which simply expanded Medicaid and Medicare, thus eliminating health insurance companies completely. They are unnecessary middlemen adding a profit margin to the already high cost of health care. However, the ACA was a step in the right direction.
As with all cultural changes, there has have been plenty of complainers. What we’ve witnessed from the entire right side of the political spectrum is annoying and irresponsible. Choosing political ideology over the welfare of American citizens is something new in this country. The venom and hate have reached all new levels, especially by Indiana Governor Mike Pence. We know democrats watch polls as well, and there have been plenty jumping on the anti-Obamacare bandwagon, and they are very short-sighted.
Muncie Voice has also been a strong advocate for labeling our food and enforcing laws at the USDA and FDA, who are supposed to protect consumers from the food industry. Big Ag & Food have huge lobbying arms which fight any and all regulation. They’ve been allowed to call genetically modified food (GMOs) “Natural”. I don’t think anyone believes bio-engineered food is natural, but the USDA and FDA has allowed these genetically altered seeds to be considered natural, so not to scare consumers from buying products on supermarket shelves.
However, when you consider Vermont is ready to pass a labeling law requiring food producers to place ‘GMO’ on labels, it’s only a matter of time before the genetically spliced foods disappear like it has in most countries where consumers are protected by their government. When consumers have a choice in what they’re buying, they generally make good decisions.
You must be thinking, “What does Big Food & Med have in common?”
Our wellness. Or more specifically, much of what we consume has a direct link to our health. If we eat poorly, it will be harmful to our health – the worse we eat, the worse our health.
Think about it – in all the years leading up to the implementation of the ACA, the health industry has profited from sick patients. Big Med, Big Pharma, and Big Medical Device Maker profited from our poor health. The more people got diseases, the more medicine was prescribed. As their weight caused knees and hips to wear out, replacement body parts were installed. If all the hospital beds were full, the more profit for everyone in Big Med. Build bigger hospitals with more beds and the more profit you would make as an organization.
The ACA has caused all this to change. The industry which profited from sick people, will now be focused on making people healthier. Healthier people will use fewer services, and this will bring down the cost of health care.
When you look at what drove the healthcare industry for years and the public policy that went along with it, the entire model was focused on profit motives versus promoting the well-being of Americans.
Like we said earlier, smart consumers haven’t been waiting for corrupted politicians to change public policies. They’ve sought out healthier options for themselves and farmers and social entrepreneurs are creating new business models to meet the demand.
Be prepared. We’ve already read where Big Restaurant chains are moving away from GMOs and processed foods high in corn syrup. More people are buying organic and local farmer markets are getting extremely busy. Watch for food cooperatives to form over the coming years. While large cultural shifts happen slowly, we see it accelerating in many areas throughout the country.
In Cleveland, there are many food cooperative ventures springing up to discuss eating nutrient rich food grown locally and organically. Check out the video below where they are installing loop houses to extend growing seasons in community gardens:
Can you envision this type of project in Muncie? We can.
In Connersville, Indiana, Darrell Smith writes about a large-scale organic farm being developed with the idea of adding a salmon farm in the future. This is an investment to keep up with the local demand, and it’s only going to increase. According to Alex Carroll, owner of Lifeline Farms,”The demand side for fish protein and high quality vegetables is out stripping supply,” Carroll said. “It’s going nowhere but up. We’ve talked with people like Kroger, U.S. Foods, Caito Foods and people like that. It will be someone like that we start with.”
Not only are these shifts happening because food and health are related, it’s also connected to the #solidarityeconomy, the #neweconomy, #democraticownership, and #workerowned businesses.
What are these hashtags describing?
They refer to the “New Economy” movement which is quickly growing across the nation. Expect to hear much more of it on Muncie Voice over the coming months. This is the solution to many of the problems we face today in this country. Informed consumers and citizens make better choices for themselves and their families. We see demand going in one direction while monied interests try to stall progress. We believe populist momentum is shifting toward new economies designed to meet the new demand as well.
Or more specifically, “Communities are working to move away from the old economy based on ecological destruction, gross inequality, and political paralysis and transitioning to something new — an economy based in equity, sustainability, and true democracy.”
The nice folks who said those words, the New England New Economy, created an infographic to show what the new economy looks like. Even though it’s just a sketch, we’ll start to fill in the picture with real stories over the coming weeks.