In his article, Big Food Must Go: Why We Need to Radically Change the Way We Eat, the author, Christopher D. Cook lays out a solid case for why our food system needs a radical change.
Mr. Cook doesn’t hesitate to spell out his message. His subhead reads:
This is not a problem we can solve by going vegetarian or vegan, or buying organic and fair trade.
We know plenty of folks working hard to find solutions using those any or all of those methods, habits and life-style choice. Are they (we) wasting their (our) time?
The author states:
It is no longer news that a few powerful corporations have literally occupied the vast majority of human sustenance. The situation is perilous: nearly all of human food production, seeds, food processing and sales, is run by a handful of for-profit firms which, like any capitalist enterprise, function to maximize profit and gain ever-greater market share and control. The question has become: What do we do about this disastrous alignment of pure profit in something so basic and fundamental to human survival?
Mr. Cook rightly states the time is now to “de-occupy” Walmart, Archer Daniels Midland, Tyson Foods, Monsanto, Cargill, Kraft and other large corporations with a stranglehold on our food system. He advocates to de-fund these companies:
Take all our money out, public and personal, from our shopping dollars to school district lunch contracts to the corporate subsidies that uphold these firms' grip on our food supply, and invest it in a new system that's economically diverse and ecologically sustainable.
Mr. Cook, it seems to me, is dead on with this article. After all, money and profits are the life blood of corporations and what gets most companies’ attention quicker than a profits shortfall?
The author continues:
”Occupying the food system" has emerged as a rallying cry as activists and movements across the country, from Willie Nelson to more than 60 Occupy groups are turning up the heat on "big food" in nationwide actions today. Across the US, online and offline, thousands will be protesting icons of corporate control over food such as Monsanto and Cargill, and literally occupying vacant lots and tilling long-ignored soils in a mass-scale rejuvenation of community-led food production. (Find out more about the day of action here. We want to ignite a robust conversation about corporate control of our food supply," says Laurel Sutherlin, communications manager for Rainforest Action Network, a lead organizer in this growing coalition of food system occupiers. "Occupy has opened a national dialogue about inequality and the dangers of surrendering our basic life-support systems over to corporate control.
How can we really “occupy” these behemoths and revamp something as huge as our “food system”? Most of us want our farmstead cheeses, our heirloom tomatoes and maybe even some raw milk. Who among us doesn’t want to keep families on their farms? Some may ask ‘what’s wrong with a few corporations controlling our food?’.
Mr. Cook gives us this apropos quote from Erin Middleton of the California Food and Justice Coalition:
Occupying the food system is about taking it back from the corporations for the communities and for the people. Access to good, healthy, affordable food is a basic human right that has been interfered with in the current capitalistic food system.
And just in case more evidence is needed about the state of our food system, the author asks the reader to consider these facts:
- Four corporations, led by Walmart, control more than half of grocery sales. Walmart alone gets more than one quarter of every grocery dollar spent in the U.S.
- Three companies – Monsanto, DuPont and Syngenta – own 47 percent of the world's seeds. And they own 65 percent of the global proprietary maize market.
- Nearly every major commodity – wheat, corn, soy – is controlled by just four corporations.
- Just four corporations control more than 80 percent of all our meat supply.
- According to USDA statistics, America loses more than 17,000 farmers a year – one every half an hour.
Our ability to control our own food is rapidly being diminished. When giant, faceless corporations control the seeds, the soil, the farms, the products, the transportation, the markets and the decision makers in Washington, our food security is severely threatened.
And that is very dangerous ground.
Have you taken part in Occupy our Food System? Tell us what you did in the comments below!
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