I recently watched Food, Inc. (there is also a book) and it was one of the most influential documentaries I have ever seen. I was blind to exactly how corrupt our government really is, the hidden dangers in our food and the poor farmers that are too fearful to show their faces or use their real names in this documentary for fear of what will happen to them, their families and their businesses. It’s like a creepy farmer horror movie, but it’s actually happening, as we sit here, staring at our computer screens.
I highly recommend watching the movie for yourself, but here’s a sneak peek of what’s included until you get the chance.
Food has changed more in the last 50 years than it has in the past 10,000, and not in a good way. “The idea that you have to write a book to tell people where their food came from shows you how far removed we are from it.” – Michael Pollan, Author of The Omnivore’s Dilemma
The American Supermarket
The modern American supermarket has on average 47,000 products.
There are no seasons in the American supermarket. Instead, food is picked green (way too early) and is ripened with ethylene gas. In the winter, you are eating the “idea” of a tomato.
70 percent of all processed foods in supermarkets have a genetically modified ingredient. (Or genetically modified organism, GMO).
Beef and Poultry
McDonalds, the largest purchaser of ground beef, wants all of their beef to taste the same, which creates a problem, since it will all have to be altered in order to achieve that.
There are currently only a handful of companies controlling our food system (enter fear and anxiety). The top four beef companies control 80 percent of the market. So even if you don’t eat at a fast food restaurant, you are still a part of this horrible system.
Tyson is the largest meat packaging company in the history of the world.
To meet demand, and of course, to make more money, chickens are now raised twice as fast, to be twice as big and have actually been redesigned to have larger breasts because people like white meat. Because they are produced so rapidly, their bones and internal organs can’t keep up with the weight they are carrying, they literally collapse because they cannot walk. Faster, fatter, bigger, cheaper, that about sums it up.
Hamburger meat is cleansed with ammonia to kill E. coli.
Corn and Corn Products
“So much of our industrial food is clever rearrangements of corn.” – Michael Pollan
Because of fertilizer, pesticides, etc., we can grow ten times as much corn than we could in the past. 20 bushels per acre has now become 200+ bushels per acre. 30 percent of our land is devoted to corn, thanks to government policy.
Corn farmers are encouraged to grow as much corn as possible, and the government will come up with uses for them (enter high fructose corn syrup). Our food is now engineered to last longer on shelves, to be produced at a lower cost, etc.
What else is made from corn? Probably the majority of what you eat in a day! Ketchup, cheese, twinkies, peanut butter, cheeze-itz, salad dressing, coke, jelly, sweet and low, syrup, juice, kool-aid, meat and fast food, to name a few. Maltodextrin, xantham gum and ascorbic acid can also all be made from corn. And it’s not just limited to food… Batteries, charcoal, diapers and motrin are corn products as well.
These calories are cheaper to produce, they are heavily subsidized. Snack food calories come from commodity crops like wheat, corn and soybeans.
We Feed Corn to Everyone and Everything
Corn is the main ingredient in feed. Unless you buy grass-fed beef, it was fed corn. Even farmed fish are fed corn. (Note, you can still eat beef and fish if you’d like, just buy grass-fed and wild-caught!)
Cows are not designed by evolution to eat corn, it’s just cheaper for us to eat and corn makes them fat. This high corn diet that the cows is harmful to them. It results in E. coli, and this strain of E. coli evolves, now entering the food system. The E. coli from this corn-fed cow is found in beef, spinach, apple juice and more because of run off. It’s scary to think that even as a vegetarian or vegan, you could be affected by this system.
90 percent of soybeans contain a patented gene that is unaffected by pesticides (2008, Monsanto patented gene). Monsanto is an evil chemical company, pretty much responsible for ruining farmers’ lives and ridding us of any non-GMO soybeans. Monsanto keeps a staff and surveillance teams to prosecute farmers for saving their own non-GMO seeds to plant next year. Monsanto puts those farmers who do not comply out of business by any means necessary. (Think dark and evil forces here).
Poor Treatment of Animals
When you watch the film, they show the hole that they have to cut into the side of the cow, to fish out the E. coli bacteria. Yum. Anyone for a burger? If not today, maybe tomorrow? The average American eats 200 lbs. of meat per year.
These obese, collapsing chickens are packed so tightly together, that they couldn’t walk even if they could. They’re often kept in wire cages, their feet growing over the wires beneath them. Their beaks are seared off so they don’t peck each other or the workers.
Animals stand knee deep in their manure all day long. If we put glass walls on all the processing facilities, we’d have a different food system in this country.
The Corrupted Government
Basically, everyone’s in bed with someone else. We put our faith in the government to protect us, but we’re not being protected at even the most basic level. Regulatory agencies are now being controlled by the companies they’re supposed to be scrutinizing.
In 1972, the FDA conducted approximately 50,000 food safety inspections. In 2006, they conducted only 9,164. Gross.
There are only 13 slaughter houses to process the majority of meat processed in the U.S. They’re all combined, so the odds of one of them carrying something infectious is extremely high.
Something is seriously wrong with some of these people. The meat/poultry associations actually took the USDA to court to say that the USDA doesn’t have the authority to shut down plants, even if the plant is contaminated. (What?!?!) However, after a young boy’s death resulted in a new law called Kevin’s Law, plants that continually produce contaminated meat will be shut down.
The food industry is always looking for steps in efficiency, but each step creates more problems. For instance, if a cow has E. coli, all that is necessary (instead of raging antibiotics, steroids, or another high-tech answer) is five days of a grass-fed diet. It will shed 80 percent of the bacteria that way.
The employers (Smithfield, for example) even have such a twisted hold of their employees, which are bussed in from 100 miles away, they can’t afford to quit.
In the last 25 years, our government has been dominated by the industries it was meant to be regulating.
Everything is about politics, centralized power being used against farmers, workers and consumer who are deliberately being kept in the dark about what they’re eating and what it is doing to their bodies. They don’t want you to know what’s in it, and they make it against the law for you to criticize their products.
The food industry has different protections than other industries. Oprah was sued for loss of profit by the meat industry for something she said on her show. Six years of litigation, $1 million in legal fees, but Oprah won. Unfortunately there’s not enough people out there with $1 million lying around to fight these companies and win. Another example, in Colorado, you can go to PRISON for criticizing ground beef in the state of Colorado. And Colorado is not alone, there are laws passed in 13 U.S. states that make it easier for food producers to sue their critics for slander. These states include: Alabama, Arizona, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Dakota and Texas.
You and I
We’re all different. But are we, really? Because there are companies that certainly have us all figured out. We are hard-wired to go for three tastes: fat, sugar and salt. These are rare in nature, but now we can find them everywhere. These things cause spikes in insulin and wear down our metabolism.
Type 2 Diabetes, a disease which in the past only affected adults, now affects children of epidemic proportions.
Hungry For Change?
The average meal travels 1500 miles from farm to supermarket.Shop at local farmers markets, plant a garden (even a small one). Cook a meal with your family and eat together. Buy local. Even your lovable, organic companies like Tom’s is owned by Colgate, Kashi is owned by Kellogg’s.Everyone has a right to healthy food. Make sure your farmers market takes food stamps. Ask your school board to provide healthy lunches. The FDA and USDA are supposed to protect us.Tell congress to enforce food safety standards and reintroduce Kevin’s Law. If you say grace, ask for food that will keep us and the planet healthy.You can change the world with every bite. Go to www.takepart.com/foodinc