There has been an awful lot of talk in the United States lately about the corruptive influence of corporations on our government and the negative impacts that they inflict upon our livelihoods. And while not all corporate products or services deserve to be demonized, there is sure plenty to be upset about – a lot of which has gotten TheFruitMonster pretty riled up lately! The result? You guessed it, a series of blog posts about how you can take back your country just by changing what you put in your mouth. How so? Let’s dive down this rabbit hole together, shall we?
Part 1 | Part 2
The Corporate Crap Sandwich
This Deal Stinks! And You’re Right in the Middle of It!
When it comes to what we put in our mouths, we Americans (and quickly, the rest of the world – hint, hint Australia!) are caught up in the middle of what I have come to call the ‘Corporate Crap Sandwich‘, within which all of us are getting screwed over by corporate greed on both sides of our dietary choices.
On the first side of this Corporate Crap Sandwich, you have the energy, agriculture, fertilizer, meat, dairy and food industries delivering you ‘food’ through a system that is terrible for the environment, nutritionally deficient and destructive to local economies all while making them huge piles of cash!
Flip this sandwich over, and you get an equally crap-tastic set of problems on the other side, showing up after you eat this ’food’. These problems are lead by ‘Big Pharma’ and medical insurance/professionals profiting from your illness. These, in turn, feed into the national deficit problem, thereby cutting down on the benefits your government offers you and reducing the quality of your life, all the while costing the American economy trillions of dollars. Sound bad? Well that’s why its a Corporate Crap Sandwich!
For this blog post, I’m going to (briefly, a book could be written on this section alone!) go over the first part of the first half of the Corporate Crap Sandwich which is….
The Industrialization of AgricultureOil, Gas, Poison, Patents
The whole Corporate Crap Sandwich problem really started in the post World War II environment, when the invention of refrigeration and the incorporation of petroleum into agriculture, allowed for the effective industrialization of our food supply. By introducing, on a large scale, petrol powered farming equipment into the tilling, sowing, reaping and delivery of our produce and the ability to store food for longer periods via refrigeration, an inevitable march towards large scale farming began. While this process did allow an unprecedented number of people to move off of the family farm and into the suburbs to take up service oriented jobs, it was at the expense of the quality of our food and caused people to become disconnected to ‘where their food comes from‘ (a fatal error!).
This disconnect of people from the origins of their food allowed for the entire process to be hijacked for profit-making by energy, fertilizer and seed corporations. Famers have been forced to focus on delivering greater amounts of produce with increasing amounts of it created for processed foods (rather than fresh goods). This has made the whole process distorted, increasingly poisonous and ultimately, more destructive.
EnergyOur food is dependent on oil
First lets look at energy. Mechanization of the farming process has steadily incorporated increasing levels of GHGs (GreenHouse Gas) into the food production process and created a farming industry addicted to petroleum for its equipment and natural gas for its fertilizers. As a consequence, our global food system is at the mercy of oil markets and has been identified by the IPCC as one the of the three main causes of climate change (the others are land use and fossil fuels).
Furthermore, the growing disconnect between people and their food, both physically and psychologically (i.e. knowing whats in season) has led to the destruction of local food economies and increased globalization of the food supply (e.g. bananas in Ohio from South America), through the petroleum fueled long distance transport of foods worldwide, creating extensive carbon footprints for our foods (try reducing yours!)
Who Profits?: Royal Dutch Shell, Exxon Mobil, BP, Chevron, Deere, CNH, Caterpillar
Fertilizers“Liberated from the old biological constraints. The farm could now be managed on industrial principles, as a factory transforming inputs of raw material – chemical fertilizer – into outputs of corn.” Michael Pollan
Secondly, ‘modern’ agricultural practices exhaust the soils via relentless growing of vast fields of the same crops – known as mono-cropping. While rotating crops, growing a diversity of crops, or allowing for fallow fields could avoid this problem, the lure of profit detracts farmers from these practices (i.e. lucrative corn ethanol subsidies).
This exhaustion of the soils then necessitates the use of artificial fertizers, which is where corporations like Mosaic or Intrepid Potash start to reap in their massive profits. And guess what? These fertilizers don’t even provide crops with all the nutrition they need (that means they don’t give it to you either!) AND they destroy the organic content of the soils! What’s more, the Haber process is very energy intensive consuming up to 2% of world energy (and growing) and emitting copious GHGs in the process. Plus, as a secondary effect, fertilizer run-off is also terrible for aquatic ecosystems, causing events such as algae blooms and dead zones as they consume all of the oxygen in the water. Disgusting stuff! Why do we do this to ourselves? Oh yeah, for money!
Who Profits?: Mosaic, Agrium, Potash Corp, Dow Chemical
Seed, Pesticide, Herbicide“Until we have a more complete understanding of pesticide toxicity, the benefit of the doubt should be awarded to protecting the environment, the worker, and the consumer—this precautionary approach is necessary because the data on risk to human health from exposure to pesticides are incomplete.”— British Medical Association
Third, you have the influence of big seed companies, or should I say ‘company’, like Monsanto (which controls 90-95% of the market share in the U.S.) and the pesticide/herbicide corporations. Whereas a biologically diverse farm resists disease, weed and pest intrusions, mono-cropping increases the susceptibility of crops to insect blight, disease and the intrusion of weeds. This then ‘necessitates’ the use of cancer causing pesticides and herbicides (also sold, conveniently by Monsanto as well), which, lucky for you, are applied generously.
Monsanto interferes the most by patenting genetically modified (GMO) varieties of crops which are resistant to disease/weed killers or even ones that generate their own pesticides. This is great for Monsanto, since they hold patents on these products and charge lots of money for them through their monopoly. Using these patents, they then bully farmers into using Monsanto seed (watch Food Inc for a synopsis of this), furthering their illegal monopoly and cutting into farmers’ already meager profits. This whole process is also bad for you, because you are now (often unknowingly) eating GMO products with unforseen consequences (e.g. potatoes producing their own pesticides).
Furthermore, GMO or not, all throughout the food chain, what you eat is covered in carcinogenic pesticides/herbicides! These chemicals are used excessively, with over a hundred million pounds of it used in the U.S. each year, accounting for over $2 billion in expenditure. As if that wasn’t bad enough, there are now increasing reports of pesticide resistant bugs, meaning more powerful pesticides are on the way. And guess what else? GMO crops don’t even result in less pesticide use anyway! But this is no problem for the pesticide industry, because they have made and are continuing to make billions of dollars worldwide.
Who Profits?: Monsanto, Bayer, SynGenta, DuPont, BASF
Did you know? “Known as the ‘Big 6′, Monsanto, Dow, BASF, Bayer, Syngenta and DuPont control 74% of the global pesticide market and 49% of the global seed market, making the pesticide/agricultural biotechnology industry one of the most consolidated and powerful sectors in the world.” Scary! www.panna.org
As you can see already, there are a number of very wealthy and influential corporations involved in the process of feeding you! And rather than do their job ethically and responsibly, they’ve instead created an industry focused on corporate profits, rather than your best interests! Delivering you a product that is poisoned, bad for the planet and that takes advantage of the farmers producing it.
We’ve only just begun to cover the crappy deal you get in this Corporate Crap Sandwich! I’ll warn you, that in my next post the situation will only get worse, as we delve into the problems caused by the food processing and livestock corporations. But on the tail end of it, I promise I will provide some solutions…. you can be sure they will involve fruit
Until then, go grab yourself some local organic produce and eat guilt free!