It's a Crap Sandwich!
Welcome to part 2 of the Corporate Crap Sandwich, a blog post in a series about how the greed machines behind the corporate corruption of our food chain are serving you up a horse poo hoagie. I say this because your eating decisions are central to a food making machine that can be thought of as a sandwich. On one side, this stink-wich uses methods which are terrible for the environment to deliver you a pesticide ridden, genetically modified item, that is processed into a nutritionally lacking product, which, once eaten, will leave you on the other side of the sandwich with all sorts of maladies that the insurance and pharmaceutical companies make big bucks off of treating! It’s just about the most rotten deal, I’ve ever come across! But never fear, we’re going to talk about how to change this system for the better once we get through all the doom and gloom .
The Corporate Crap Sandwich: Part 2
What’s that Smell? My Mouth Tastes Funny….
In my last post, I gave you an overview on how the industrialization of agriculture created a crop system dependent on fossil fuels, unsustainable practices, fertilizers, poisons and genetically modified crops to produce the large majority of what we eat. But why do we operate this way? Why do we produce massive swaths of the same, genetically modified corns and soybeans?
The answer to that question is, once again – because corporations are extracting massive profit from the food production process. The thing you must realize is that foods are largely no longer grown for our direct consumption. If we based our diets largely on the produce from our local farmers, then what would happen to Kraft, Nestle or PepsiCo? They wouldn’t be making nearly as much money would they? Nope, the farmers would cash in instead…
So, in the pursuit of dollars, instead of feeding us fresh produce (which is not as profitable), modern agriculture instead grows exorbitant amounts of corn, soybean, wheat and rice to either A) feed to livestock for meat/dairy/egg/etc, B) run through machinery, combine with strange chemicals, plastic wrap and re-sell to you for a profit or C) turn into biofuels. Sounds great huh? Let’s get into some more specifics.
One Brand to Rule them All
Food Processing Corporations
As I discussed in my previous post, the industrialization of agriculture pushed increasing numbers of people away from life on the farm. And as a consequence, they also grew less and less aware of what the word food actually means. Food refers to naturally occurring plants that, when eaten, provide us with all the nutrition we need with a minimum number of nasty side effects. These Foods were eaten fresh in the spring, summer and fall and, if the climate necessitated it, from cans/jars in the winter. Food depended on crops that had their own unique growing seasons based on their environmental limitations. This meant that people were familiar with the consequences of frosts, the benefits of of rainfall, and autumn harvest festivals. In short, people had a much clearer understanding of food and the labors needed to obtain it.
Where Does Food Come From? Supermarkets!
But, clearly, things aren’t like that anymore. We shop in supermarkets where hydroponically grown lettuces are available in a snowstorm and bananas never stop their endless march from South America. If there isn’t a constant stream of exactly what we want in the supermarket, we groan and moan. We sure havelost our understanding of food rather quickly haven’t we?
And that really is the source of the food processing problem. By using the growing ignorance of urban people regarding food products (as well as taking advantage of their ‘busy’ lifestyles), large food companies have entered the arena, becoming some of the most profitable industries on earth.
Make No Mistake, This is a Giant Scam
The consequence of this is basically a giant scam, wherein these companies have tricked the large majority of us into thinking that what they produce is food, when it is in fact not food (food would be the direct from the farm products!), but a sub-par item we eat that I have dubbed: ‘food’. The ‘foods’ that they deliver us are not what we were meant to eat at all, but are food-like things that are deprived of cancer fighting micro and phytonutrients, robbed of enzymes, pumped full of preservatives and flavorings and so sterile that they have to be enriched with vitamins created in a lab. Why do we eat this crap? Well, because we’ve been duped… but its more than that, we’ve actually been directly manipulated.
Guess Why I Have a 33% Chance of Getting Diabetes?
Food corporations have manipulated us by producing processed ‘food’ products that are high in fat, are loaded with salts and are insanely sugary. How is this manipulative? Well, in doing so, they have essentially exploited our human evolutionary weaknesses, in some cases leading us to be addicted to their products.
You’re Addicted to Junk Foods. Try to Stop, You’ll Prove Me Right
To show you what I mean, let’s start with sugars. In your natural state, your body was meant to operate primarily on carbohydrates – fruit sugars to be exact (hence, fruitmonster.com). So your body loves to eat sugars! And guess what? These corporate clowns know it! So what do they do? They create products like soda (bubbly sugar water), candies (flavored sugars) and countless other sugared up items – lots of them mercilessly marketed toward children.
Well, big surprise, the same goes for fats and salts, both of which are essential to human well being. The problem with these is that in nature they did not occur in high concentrations. As a result, our brains are programmed to release dopamines when we consume these things, so that we will eat a lot of them when we do come across them. However, in modern society this is no longer necessary. What’s more is that the overconsumption of these things actually leads to a negative feedback cycle in which one needs to eat more and more of these things to get the same level of satisfaction. That works out great for the ‘food’ processing corporations, since you are essentially addicted to their product.
They’re Killing Us, For a Profit
As Good as Nicotine?
It sure doesn’t take much more than a glance at the statistics to see how much corporate greed has exploited this (I’ll talk more about these topics in the other side of the Corporate Crap Sandwich). In fact, when you look at the brain chemistry driving addiction, and the health consequences of eating all these sugary, fatty, salty foods – ‘food’ companies are not much different than tobacco companies. That might be controversial to say, but the numbers don’t lie. People just haven’t been woken up to this realization yet! Just look at this CBS News Report on using flavorings to create cravings, or the upcoming lawsuits resulting from this.
Food Lazy, Food Stupid, Food Poor
So why all this talk of food addictions? Because it is through these, and by making all of us ‘food lazy’ (e.g. microwave meal or fast food over a fresh meal), ’food stupid’ (e.g. don’t know how to cook, what real foods are, where to get them) and ‘food poor’ (you can feed your family from the dollar menu at McDonalds for $10, try that with fresh veggies!), they’ve got us right where they want us. And to come full circle, the consequence of these factors converging - big food companies have had a large part in forcing famers into the unsustainable, nasty practices I outlined in the previous post.
He Ain't Kidding!
Let’s look at a well documented example: Corn. Since it’s so easy to grow in the US, they’ve found ways to turn it into just about anything (watch ‘King Korn’) As a result, farmers grow even more amazing amounts of it specifically for the food companies. Perhaps the best example of that is high fructose corn syrup (turning corn into liquid sugar), which is now found in just about every sweet item in the supermarket and makes up 10% of the calories consumed in the US. To take it a step further, the corn is a genetically modified, Monsanto owned, high starch version grown for food processors. Why GMO? Because corporate giants demand that their corn ears be grown to be specific size, color, taste, etc to streamline their processing facilities. The result of all this is the problematic mono-cropping technique we discussed before!
The all important result? What’s my point? Economies of scale and subsidies are used to produce cheap produce for food processors (so they can make money off of you!) rather than for your dinner plate. All in the name of dollars! Rotten deal! Crappy, even!
Food Processors – Nestle, Kraft, PepsiCo, Coca Cola, General Mills
Food Retailers – Wal-Mart, Kroger, Costco, Safeway, Publix
Food Additives - Givaudan, IFF
Food Re-direction to Livestock
Why Feed You Cheap Corn? Let’s Give it to Cows Instead
Through corruptive lobbying of our Congressional system
and the USDA and FDA
, they’ve turned eating meat and drinking milk into an ‘American’ thing to do
- as red, white and blue as apple pie, baseball and fireworks. The result? An increasing number of people are eating meat and milk products two to three times a day
, thinking it is healthy and normal for them to do so
… this is crazy talk! And why? No, not so that we can feed everyone! It’s done so meat, dairy and egg corporations (and all their supporting industries
) can make money
This all starts
with the industrialized agriculture machine we just reviewed
. At any other time in human history, this level of animal protein consumption would have been impossible
. Cows eating grass naturally in fields take several years to be ready to eat
, whereas the corn fed
, steroid injected, nearly dead cattle
we slaughter today (~34 million per year in the U.S alone) take ~18 months. This accomplished by re-routing our food supply into livestock
(not just cows, but hogs, chickens, turkeys, etc!) in order to pile on the calories
and pack on the weight fast
Big Meat Corporations Warm The Climate
Yes, I'm using guilt to make my point
Doing this creates a shortage in the global food supply, and drives up the prices of food related commodities(corporations love this!). It is also incredibly inefficient (taking up to 16 lbs of grains for 1 lb of flesh), which contributes to world hunger (as do biofuels)! We could easily provide every person on the face of this planet with all the nutrition they needed if we stopped feeding all of our food to livestock. But that wouldn’t make much money for Smithfield would it?
And Once Again, Mother Nature Gets Screwed
This of course is all done without regard to the huge external costs bestowed on the common people and their planet by this process… which are ENORMOUS. I am going to, in the very near future, outline these impacts in greater detail, but for now, lets hit a few key points.
Ok, pop quiz time. Which emits more greenhouse gas worldwide, the rearing of animal for their flesh or transportation? It may surprise you that meat is the answer, wherein 2006, livestock comprised ~20% of emission worldwide. That should blow your mind! A lot of folks think that ‘food miles‘ are the greenhouse gas problem to tackle. But while local food is AWESOME and ESSENTIAL to getting out of this Crap Sandwich, its the meat consumption that we really need to cut back on! By how much? One study suggests cutting back to 80 grams a week (one burger and one chicken fillet every three days). My opinion? Even less than that, try eating local, free range meat once a week or not at all .
Big Meat Corporations Hurt Your Health
Antibiotics For Everyone!
The other thing big meat corporations are guilty of: health problems. Let’s stick to the direct effects for now, as I’ll cover the long term health problems on the other side of the Corporate Crap Sandwich. By creating massive feedlot type operations for cattle, hogs and chickens, the meat industry has introduced unprecedented amounts of antibiotics, hormones, steroids and dangerous bacteria into our food chain. They introduce antibiotics into our food supply and create drug resistant bacteria. They kill children when fecal matter contaminates meat. Why do they get away with practices that cause these problems? Because of the powerful meat lobby looking after their interests in Washington. Money talks.
Big Meat Corporations Pollute Our Water
That's Hog Waste, That's Ridiculous
These massive animal rearing operations don’t just warm our planet, they also pollute our waters. Poultry farms have poisoned rivers all over the country – just look at this case in Oklahoma. Swine feedlots create entire lagoons full of sewage and disease. And a farm of 2500 dairy cattle produces more waste than a city of over 400,00! Want more? Just check out this list of offenses! I’ll finish with this fact: ”America’s top pork producer (Smithfield) churns out a sea of waste that has destroyed rivers, killed millions of fish and generated one of the largest fines in EPA history” (source). It’s mind boggling, it’s depressing. We shouldn’t put up with this!
Who Profits? Smithfield, Tyson, JBS, Cargill
Let's Take a Breather
OK, Whew! What Now?
Alright, I know that was a lot of information. But to tell you the truth, we’ve only begun to scratch the surface. There is such a large degree of greed and corruption all throughout our food system, that with these past two posts, we’ve only been able to make it through a couple of examples. This discussion is by no means inclusive, but it was not meant to be. What it was meant to do, was highlight what a crappy deal we find ourselves in the middle of – a Corporate Crap Sandwich to be exact! And we’ve only covered half of it! On that first side, we’ve seen a process that pollutes our environment, wastes our resources, leaves people hungry and takes advantage of our weaknesses. All of it driven by a strong profit motive that has shown itself to be irresponsible and unethical.
What now? Where to next? Ok, never fear my monsters-in-training! Although we are trudging through some frustrating, depressing stuff, it is all being done to take us into a phase of glorious victory and inspiration. One that is full of fruitmonstering sessions, abundant in fresh produce consumption and overflowing with energy, vibrantly healthy and abundant in community. We’ll get there, I promise. I’m not going to leave you hanging, filled up with sadness and lost. I’m going to set up a clear set of things we can do to change all this!
So, until next time, where we cover the flip side of this Bread Topped Code Brown Special, I suggest you go chow down on some fruit, make a green smoothie or juice yourself into a fruitopian coma!