ignorance is bliss

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This book explores the ways in which the food industry is influenced and controlled by corporations.


  • health and education 1



    Corporate Control of the Food Industry

  • The corporate food industry is out of control and it is having a devastating impact on the health of Americans as well as the environment.

    Many Americans do not want to even think about or know how their food gets to them. However, this was an extremely disturbing realization. If we refuse to understand our food and the process it takes to get from the farm to our plate and still be fine with eating certain products, maybe that should tell us something.

    For years corporations hid the horrors of the food industry but recently, with movies like Food Inc., people are starting to realize that their is something very wrong with the food industry. With a small amount of research, it is easy to uncover a significant number of problems that exist in corporate agriculture. There are few corporations that have complete control over a part of our lives that is impacting our health and the environment. While we sit back and do nothing, the food industry

    continues to fill our food with hormones, antibiotics, high fructose corn syrup and many other cheap unhealthy alternatives. Until people start to demand change, there is no reason for corporations to change their process.

    It does not take a great deal of effort to change personal food choice but this is what can collectively change the current problems within the food industry. If the consumers refuse to purchase certain products until positive change happens then corporations will have no choice but to listen to the consumer.


  • Poor policy combined with corporate greed has put the agricultural industry in a dangerous spot for consumers. So how did we end up here?


    Government policy has greatly impacted the way food is produced today. In 1973, Earl Butz passed the Farm Bill and his philsophy was go big or go home. The Farm Bills policies guaranteed that farmers would received a minimum price for corn, regardless of how much they produced. As a result they produced and produced. Over time the U.S. reduced the minimum price and farmers had to produce more and more to reap the same revenues. The farmers got poorer and corn got abundant.

    What has this policy done to our food? Corn has become available for purchase at prices even lower than the cost to produce it. Its so cheap we now feed it to cattle, instead of raising them on grass. We now sweeten our soft drinks (and other food items) with high-fructose corn

    syrup instead of sugar. We also include it, in some hyper-processed form or another, in a remarkable number of the processed foods we find in our local grocery.

    Whats the problem with this? Beef raised on corn is different from beef raised on grass: it has more saturated fat, and less Omega-3 fatty acids, than it should. High-fructose corn syrup has been shown to put 50% more weight on rats than sugar. This may well make our soda, and the other foods that contain it, much worse for us. There are many signs that the way were processing food, and putting it in places where it doesnt naturally exist, is having a detrimental impact on our national well-being. On top of our health, the high rate of production is also having a huge impact on crop diversity and the overall ecosystem and health of our planet.1

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    1926Concern over health hazards of arsenate levels leads to first pesticide regulation

    1957high fructose corn

    syrup is first introducedto the American public

    1958U.S. Congress passes a

    Food Additives Amendment requiring manufacturers to prove safety of new food additives; bill includes the Delaney Clause that bans

    approval of any food additive shown to cause cancer in

    humans or animals3

    1962The United States passed a law granting plant breeders the rights to patent seeds, thus preventing others from selling the same variety4

  • 1990U.S. Congress passes Nutrition Labeling and Education Act requiring standardized listing of ingredients and serving sizes on food products3

    1990Congress passes the

    Organic Food Production Act, authorizing the U.S.

    Department of Agriculture to establish a nationwide definition for organic food2

    1988Scientists warn that global warming may

    affect the future viability of American farming

    1979Large increase in the number of

    families now eating microwave meals

    1975Animal Factories become the dominant production

    method of meat

    1971Earl Butz passes

    legisltation to create food for everyone

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    1994Three packers

    controlled the slaughter of over 80% of the beef in the US4

    1994The first weed and insect resistant biotech crops

    (soybeans and cotton) are available commercially2

    1999Significant portions of

    the global food chain are under the control of three

    corporate clusters

    2010S510, the Food Safety Modernization Act of 2010, if passed would take away the publics

    right to grow, own, trade, transport, share, feed and eat each and every food that nature makes

    1994FDA grants the first approval for food produced through biotechnology4

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    FOODETHICSpage 29







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  • There is a serious lack of knowledge when it comes to what we are eating. Between making the right food choices and what is really healthy, how can one begin to decipher the truth behind the corporate food industry? Well, it takes a serious understanding of how our food is produced, where it comes from and the impact certain foods can have on our overall health.


    Where do we even start when there are such a large number of problems? How is the food industry personally effecting human health and how can we begin to re-envision a solution?

    There are a few problems that need to be addressed when it comes to food and our health. First, if the only foods available are processed and lack nutritional value then being able to eat cannot promote health. If there are fresh vegetables but they are too expensive to purchase it becomes difficult to feed yourself well or achieve real wellness. This is a huge problem for many Americans who do not have the

    luxury to spend a large amount of money on organically grown food therefore relying on cheap processed alternatives.

    Another problem is that the real costs of food are invisible. We are not paying for the health care costs that are going to bankrupt our health care system or the long term effects that are going to result from unhealthy processed food. These costs are completely hidden from us, and the corporations want to keep it that way. These costs are adding up at such an alarming rate and there needs to be a change in policy in order to keep diet related health risks to a minimum.

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    Obesity rates have tripled over the past 10 years

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    There is food and there is what I call edible food-like substances. These are things we invented in the last 50 years or so that, you know, smell like food, taste like food, look like food, but theyre very different than the kinds of things people ate 100 years ago.

    Michael Pollan

  • health and education 19

    problem one


    While some people have access to healthy, unprocessed food, there are locations such as Detroit that are considered to be food deserts. Food desserts are urban areas that do not have any major grocery store within the city limits. This means those people have very few options when they are purchasing food and often times end up buying food at a corner store.

    Another problem is that a large amount of the food available at grocery stores is only of one variety. Iceberg lettuce is available at almost every store across the country but provides little nutritional value. On the other hand, more nutritious varieties such as Red Sail and Red Majestic lettuce are more expensive and available at a smaller percentage of stores.

    Both food choice and availability effect what people eat. If quality products were available more often people would be more likely to purchase them causing a decrease in the cost of the product.


    When a market is consolidated the largest four companies have control over 40% of the market. This gives them the chance to raise prices to limit open competition.

    How can consolidation begin to personally effect your food choices:

    Its harder and harder to find healthy, locally produced foods in communities especially if you live in a low-income area where there might not be a supermarket for miles.

    Prices are rising at the supermarket, but youve heard that farmers are struggling and big food companies have made record profits this year.

    You dont have much choice about the food you eatmaybe the selection of produce is bad, or you dont like that everything seems to be made with corn products.

    Local farms are going out of business because small farmers cant compete with prices set by consolidated buyers.

    Just one company controls the majority of seeds in the U.S., and regularly threatens farmers who dont buy their seeds.

    The food you can afford is bad for you; healthy food is expensive.5







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