Modern food production is nothing short of a marvel of scale, convenience and efficiency and, worldwide, employs more than a billion people. The scope food production industry is matched only by the need to serve a planet with seven billion hungry mouths, all looking for their daily bread. In the U.S. we spend nearly $1.5 trillion every year just feeding ourselves.
Despite the enormousness of the industry, the food industry has been consolidated into a relatively small number of hands. On the global scale, just ten companies dominate the food business, with five of them accounting for the lion’s share. Because of their size, these companies can operate with efficiencies of scale that have brought the price per calorie of food down levels we have previously never known. On a purely numbers basis, the average person needs roughly 2,000 calories per day. At today’s market prices that can be had for as little as $2, less if you’re able to buy in bulk. Now that doesn’t say anything about the nutritional value of those calories; that’s just the raw numerical count.
For all its efficiency, the food industry has some dark secrets that they don’t particularly like seeing pointed out in print.
We Spend Billions Advertising Junk Food To Kids
Depending upon the methodology used to count the numbers, the food industry spends anywhere from $1.6 billion to $10 billion a year marketing food products to your kids. The bulk of that advertising is for foods that are high in sugar, fat and calories. If your kids watch a lot of TV, they could be exposed to as many as 5,500 food commercials every year, many of them featuring cute cartoon characters.
We Run On Corn, You Foot The Bill For It
The U.S. produced a record amount of corn in 2014, roughly 800 billion pounds of it. There is corn in animal feed, processed food products and corn sweetener in nearly every processed food product that you consume. Corn is in everything because it’s cheap and it’s cheap because the U.S. has paid out roughly $84 billion in corn subsidies since 1995. You’re picking up the tab for producing record amounts of the food industry’s most popular product.
We Own Your Government
While your congressman probably doesn’t have time to call you back, he or she will make time for Nestle. The food industry spends billions on lobbying and front groups opposing regulation, food safety testing and nutrition guidelines that favor healthier alternatives. The food industry is big enough to push around the USDA, the government agency that’s supposed to be guarding the safety of our food supply.
We Can’t Tell You Where All The Ingredients Come From
Major food manufacturers buy food components by the ship load and rail car. The industry long ago lost track of where this or that ingredient came from. Some ingredients could be blended from many sources. Recently Congress repealed the so-called COOL labeling, which stands for Country Of Origin Labeling. Today you can’t tell if that chunk of steak comes from a U.S. producer or one south of the border where health regulations may be much more lax.
We Will Discredit Critics
With a name like Center For Consumer Freedom you’d think it was grassroots consumer group but you’d be wrong. A close examination of publicly available documents reveals the center is funded by a collection of companies that include Coca Cola, Cargill, Monsanto, Tyson and Wendy’s. This would be the same group that opposes initiatives to remove junk food from school vending machines. And they’re not above personally attacking the credibility of activists.