“Big Food”: Eating us Alive

May 15, 2024

I’m a gal who enjoys the occasional bag of Cheetos or a delicious cheeseburger. I’m by no means a food purist. A new documentary, however, is making me feel, well, a little…manipulated.

Food, Inc. 2 is the follow-up to 2008’s Oscar-nominated Food, Inc. That first documentary showed the harmful impact of factory farming, not just on our health but on the planet. Food, Inc.2 takes it a step further, spotlighting the small handful of corporations that control our food supply. There are ten. TEN companies that produce the food we eat, from that can of Pringles to the beef for your barbecue. Just four corporations control 75% of the grain trade. Factory farms control 43% of egg production, 55% of pork production, and 72% of poultry production.

This consolidation has largely been overlooked by the government, but the global pandemic and related supply chain issues revealed how fragile this setup is.

There are a few good reasons to back off of factory-farmed foods whenever you can. First are the horrendously cruel conditions around the animals. As an animal lover, I don’t even want to go into detail, but suffice to say, it’s bad. Plus, these animals are given chemically boosted feed and treated with antibiotics which find their way into our own bodies. One easy way to push back is to avoid eating meat for just one day a week, aka Meat Free Monday.

Next, factory farms seriously damage the environment. They release enormous amounts of greenhouse gasses, pollute waterways with runoff, and plow up the land. Plus, trucking foods across the country burns a lot of fossil fuels.

The corporations controlling our food supply have also been monkeying around with things like lab-grown meat and ultra-processed foods. They’re touted as “healthier,” but the process and the chemicals used can negatively impact our health in ways we’re just beginning to understand.

In addition, the iron grip that these few companies have over our food supply allows them to exploit workers from the fields to the fast-food window, wreck family farms, and raise prices on consumers to keep their profits flowing in. If you’ve been complaining about smaller portions and higher prices at the grocery store, it’s these fat cats using the cover of “inflation.”  (#greedflation, #shrinkflation). Fortunately, Senators Cory Booker (D-NJ) and Jon Tester (D-MT) are working on ways to combat these practices.  This is a great resource for both tracking legislation around this issue (and others) and for contacting your representatives.

Closer to home, you can do your part to combat Big Food. Get your produce at a nearby farmer’s market. Encourage your favorite restaurant to use locally grown ingredients (and support their efforts with enthusiastic Yelp reviews). Buy your bread at a family bakery and your morning brew from small local coffeemakers. You don’t have to be perfect in your efforts – just look for any opportunity to sidestep the global corporations and put your money where your mouth is.

Literally.


Cindy Grogan is a writer, lover of history and "Star Trek" (TOS), and hardcore politics junkie. There was that one time she campaigned for Gerald Ford (yikes), but ever since, she's been devoted to Democratic and progressive policies.

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DemJones on Aug 23, 2022 8:01 AM
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