- Moby, a famous musician and outspoken vegan, penned an op-ed in The Wall Street Journal, arguing “Food Stamps Shouldn’t Pay for Junk.”
- There was swift backlash against the article and its author.
- Experts are divided on how best to address factors that contribute to poverty, obesity, and food insecurity in the US.
Moby, a famous musician, DJ, and avowed vegan, is under fire for an op-ed he published in The Wall Street Journal.
In the article, under the headline “Food Stamps Shouldn’t Pay for Junk,” Moby argues that the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) should cut costs by restricting offerings to emphasize less expensive, more nutritious items instead of less-healthy processed foods.
“Selling soda, candy and heavily processed meats is easy when the government picks up the tab,” he writes. “Under SNAP, the big food conglomerates go to the bank while the poor end up in the emergency room.”
Instead, Moby argues that the government should push for a program that focuses on “cheap, healthy foods like beans, vegetables, fruit and whole grains.”
Researchers are split on how best to address the factors that contribute to poverty, obesity, and food insecurity in the US. However, Moby – who, despite his humble beginnings, is today a celebrity who has purchased and sold millions of dollars in real estate – taking on the position of an expert on poverty and nutrition rubbed many the wrong way.
vegan millionaire: poor people shouldn't be able to buy candy or meat https://t.co/kI06mA0sIc
— Ben Walsh (@BenDWalsh) April 10, 2018
Moby, who’s rich, should STFU and stop pairing with the WSJ to punch the poor & advocate for controlling what they do. Being poor is stressful, eating healthy takes time many people don’t have. https://t.co/32FJFJ96ma
— Alexis Goldstein (@alexisgoldstein) April 10, 2018
Moby: “Food stamps should be restricted to beans and rice.”
— Margaret H. Willison (@MrsFridayNext) April 10, 2018
“Will Moby provide refrigeration and kitchens?” Melissa Morabito, an associate professor at UMass Lowell, tweeted.
And on the practical level, Moby thinks preventing SNAP purchases of cheese, meat, drinks would fix food deserts? That suddenly fresh vegetables would be sold everywhere?
— Lincoln Michel (@TheLincoln) April 10, 2018
We now turn to subject matter expert Moby, who has identified the key problems with SNAP: It is too good at feeding poor people, and not good enough at making them feel bad for eating the same foods as non-poor people. https://t.co/k2A0hxdDe1 pic.twitter.com/xSnt3juaBZ
— Gray Kimbrough (@graykimbrough) April 10, 2018
Moby isn’t without his supporters. The Scaramucci Post, a media venture backed by former White House communications director Anthony Scaramucci, tweeted the “important” article.
"Under SNAP, the big food conglomerates go to the bank while the poor end up in the emergency room." – Moby on making the SNAP program healthy, via @WSJ: https://t.co/6ZX7ZnxMXv pic.twitter.com/6xuaC9tMci
— Physicians Committee (@PCRM) April 10, 2018
— Janis Powers (@janis_powers) April 10, 2018
Experts are split on how SNAP should be structured to best serve people living in poverty.
Studies suggest a significant portion of SNAP benefits are being spent on soda, candy, and other junk food that has been proven to have a negative impact on people’s health. However, others argue that food restrictions would increase stigma, drive up costs, and fail to address deeper issues – especially if people receiving SNAP benefits are shopping in areas without high-quality, fresh food and lack the time or resources to prepare it.
“This issue has pitted anti-obesity and public health groups against the anti-hunger community,” Dr. Kelly Brownell, dean of Duke University’s Sanford School of Public Policy, told the website Civil Eats in 2017.
“On the one hand,” Brownell continued, “the public health community says these beverages are contributing to ill health through obesity and diabetes. On the other hand, the hunger community says people are already stigmatized for using these benefits, and that to take something away would further stigmatize them.”