Eff yeah France: free birth control for teenagers

Slate reports:

NPR reports that France is adopting a new regulation making contraception and contraception counseling free to girls 15 to 18, with an added provision that doctors must offer this care without notifying parents. Unlike here in the U.S., the free contraception is covered by the state and not a girl's insurance, giving her a further layer of privacy protections. The government hopes that by protecting young girls' privacy, it can increase contraception use and reduce the teen pregnancy rate.

So: Straightforward, almost boring health care policy story about a government taking sensible, cost-effective measures to curb a public health problem. But the story isn't really about health care policy—the underlying narrative here is that the French are yet again making American politicians look like a bunch of out of touch prudes. (Americans don't need the French to point this out: Just wander into an American abstinence-only classroom to hear sexually active kids being told that anything short of waiting the 15-plus years between puberty and the average age of first marriage to have sex is a ruinous choice that will end with the fornicator unable to feel love or dead from AIDS.)

Everybody sensible knows that American politics can't hold up its current bad decisions and wrong positions.  Eventually all the people who care about them will die, or America will slip below first-world status and we'll have a schism, or the NRA will shoot everyone.  Or we'll elect some sane people soon.  Don't want to rule that out.

It's nice to know that, while we flounder, the rest of the world continues to move forward.

NPR: Healthy eating doesn't have to be expensive

(via Reddit) According to the USDA's Economic Research Service (ERS), when you calculate the price of foods more complexly, it tends to be less expensive to eat healthy than it is to maintain a poor diet.  This finding goes against the popular conception that healthy eating is a luxury, only available to people who can spare the budget to buy healthier foods.

From NPR:

Cost is often cited as a barrier to eating well. But USDA's Andrea Carlson and her colleagues analyzed the cost of more than 4,000 foods using three different measures: Price per calorie (or food energy), price by weight, and price per average amount consumed.

By using this last measure — which is a good proxy of what actually makes it onto our plate — the news is good.

"We find that fruits and vegetables — especially vegetables — come out much less expensive than the less-healthy food such as potato chips, ready-to-eat cereals [which are] often high in sugar, [and] anything with a lot of fat like cookies and pies." That's because you get more bang — like vitamins and minerals — for the buck.