The Food Industry

 The chief culprit in the American Epidemic (obesity, diabetes and heart disease) is food and the way it is grown, refined, processed, advertised and marketed.

The food industry and its lack of sanitation, safety and nutritional standards, is an industry in need of regulation. Regulation is required because the way food is grown, matters, And the way these guys see it, profits matter more.

In addition to the metabolic havoc it wrecks on children, food now needs to be monitored for bacterial, viral diseases and antibiotics. If nothing else, this should serve as a warning to the potential catastrophe on the horizon.

The responsibility for overseeing and regulating this rather large and important aspect of the American economy, as well as assuring the quality and safety of America’s food supply, falls on the shoulders of the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

Unfortunately, many of the men and women who oversee these operations were once employed by the very companies they now must regulate. This obvious conflict of interest might even be responsible for the eighty percent reduction in safety inspections performed by these agencies over the last three decades.

The USDA mission is to meet the needs of ranchers and farmers. They want to help them develop new markets for their products and as a side note, assure food safety and protect our natural resources. In doing so, they act more as a trade group than a regulatory agency.

They have simply followed the same tried and true formula that worked so well with the pharmaceutical industry, which is to say, let the folks in Agribusiness regulate themselves. And just as BigPharma believed what was good for them was good for America, so too does AgrIBusiness.

The term Agribusiness is used to define the huge corporations who feed, grow and slaughter animals. They then skin, package and transport those products to supermarkets and homes across America. These companies also seed, water and pick the fruits and vegetables that stock supermarkets shelves. In fact, these companies do just about everything when it comes to the food we eat. And while Organic foods may not have proved itself to the Stanford researchers, the methods used by small farmers and ranch co=operatives are far superior than those of Agribusiness.

While it may seem that there are many companies involved in the growing and processing of food, the irony is that there are only a handful. A few large companies are responsible for corporatized meat, mechanized dairy products and industrialized grains and seeds consumed by Americans.

These corporations  include Creekstone Farms and Swift (beef) Tyson and Perdue (chicken) Smithfield and Carroll’s Foods (pork), ConAgra (packaged meats), Monsanto (corn, soybeans and pesticides), Archer-Daniels-Midland and Cargill (cereals, seeds and grains) Dole (fruit), and Nestlé USA (packaged snacks).Cargill is becoming a major player in the dietary supplement business through its glucosamine product that it is selling to beverage makers.

The essential ingredient and common denominator in all of these companies is a willingness to put profits before consumers. Their bottom lines, like all other American businesses, rules the boardroom. This should come as no surprise since the essential feature of our health-care system is to put profits before patients.

Palm oil is an agricultural commodity that threatens the rainforests of the world. Palm oil is used in over half the consumer goods purchased by Americans.c They range in form from lipstick to body lotion, from packaged foods to biofuels. Over 80% percent of palm oil is grown in Indonesia and Malaysia.. Palm oil production damages the environment by deforestation, endangering species and increasing greenhouse gaess. .

Pollution is exacerbated when rainforests are destroyed. Greenpeace claims that deforestation, caused by new oil palm plantations, is far more damaging to the climate than the benefits gained by biofuels..

Cargill is the biggest owner of palm oil plantation in the world.  Palm oil is in many food products sold in supermarkets . Over a hundred General Mills products alone contain it. The list includes Cheerios, Betty Crocker, Stovetop Hamburger Helper and Bisquick.

 


 

Images of green fields, undulating hills and red barns are burned into our subconscious. We grew-up watching films that portrayed fierce individualism, an American birth right. The lives of cattle rustlers and farmers appealed to this spirit. Well, this idyllic picture of agrarian America has gone the way of the horse-pulled carriage.

Today, factory farming, corporate ranching and industrial slaughterhouses represent the methods that produce our foods. The practice of raising animals, in high density confinement without the presence of natural vegetation and with an inability to remove fecal wastes, has led to the degradation of our food supply. To ensure safety in the beef produced, they feed the cows antibiotics and irradiate the beef after slaughter.

 

Cattle and beef production represents the largest segment of American agriculture. The methods used to increase revenue include  feeding its animals with government subsidized crops and expanding the use of confinement feeding technology with minimal pasture based production. Its the same with chickens.

Confining and overcrowding animals in dry indoor farms is designed to produce the most meat, eggs and milk at the lowest possible cost. The lack exercise in these cows, pigs, turkeys and chicken causes them to develop weak bones and atrophied muscles. Conditions eerily familiar to today’s kids. It also provides the optimum conditions for viral mutations and the transmission of infectious diseases.

 

Because of their cost efficient methods of farming there is now widespread destruction of the environment, including depleting and polluting our water supplies, degrading our soils, and relying on pesticides.

 

In fact, Monsanto is at the center of a controversy. This should come as no surprise since Monsanto was the chemical company that produced the pesticide DDT (Dichloro-Diphenyl-Trichloro-ethane).

 

DDT contained dioxin, a known carcinogen. DDT had such a negative environmental impact that is was banned in the US in the 1970’s. Monsanto continue to sell the pesticide to the rest of the world despite its known danger.

 

Monsanto also manufactured the herbicide and exfoliant, Agent Orange, a mixture of two phenoxyl herbicides. 2,4-dichlorophenoxyacetic acid and 2,4,5-trichlorophenoxyacetic acid.

Agent Orange cause deaths and deformities similar to Zyklon-B,the most famous killer chemical.  Zyklon-B is a cyanide-based pesticide used during the Holocaust.

 

Monsanto has now genetically modified the soybean seed in order for it to thrive in the presence of its very powerful pesticide, Round-Up. This genetic modification to its own poison allowed Monsanto to capture over 90% of the soybean market whereas it barely had a presence before.

These corporations have genetically modified the animal’s genes. They have fattened cows, chicken and pigs with corn products, increased the use of pesticides, fostered an environment rich in E.coli bacteria, and then overused antibiotics to kill them.

In fact, conditions are so unsanitary that children have actually died after eating burgers contaminated with the bacterium Escherichia coli O157:H7 while many others developed kidney ailments years later.