WICked inefficient

I've taken a lot of flak for saying that food stamps are a program whose time has gone. But I hope we can all agree that it's time for WIC to take the long walk behind the barn. The goal of the program is laudable, and even (gasp!) something I think we should be spending government money on: making sure that poor, er, proto-babies get adequate prenatal nutrition. But as it has been implemented, the thing is a massive handout to dairy farmers.

Put down the "Vegans are evil" picket sign; my problem isn't that we're giving them milk and milk products. The problem is that the list of foods available is weird and not particularly nutritious. Fruit and vegetable juice, but not actual fruit and vegetables. Milk products, but no soy milk or cheese. Hey, I don't like either. But there's no reason to give people dairy products, but not fortified soy milk. And juice is much worse for you than the high fiber plant foods in their original state.

Obesity is a much bigger problem for poor people than undernutrition; there's no reason that we should be pushing fattening foods on poor women, except that the lobbies that produce these foods will not tolerate having any of them removed from the list. Meanwhile, there's no attempt to ensure that pregnant women and young children are getting a really balanced diet, even though new research is showing that the different components of prenatal diet may have a large effect on lifelong predisposition to obesity and disease.