“Most of us, if we choose to do so, can recognize how food companies spend money on advertising, but it is far more difficult to know about the industry’s behind-the-scenes efforts to Congress, federal agencies, courts, universities and professional organizations to make diets seem a matter of personal choice rather than deliberate manipulation.” — Marion Nestle, “Food Politics.”
During the first week of July, we learned that Foster Farms was finally, after about 16 months of fiddling around, being held responsible (more or less) for its disease-producing production practices. This is just one example of how corporate interests are controlling not only what we eat, but obviously manipulating regulators who should be protecting us.
Who knows what kind of influence Foster Farms has had over the FDA, but why they hadn’t been forced to close up their act long before that is a mystery. The recall is for 170 different chicken products — most produced in the Central Valley. How many more people have to suffer before the FDA makes corporate interests toe the line?
We are all at the mercy of the food industry and the FDA when it comes to what we eat. Even those who are aware of the problems and do their best to eat healthfully find it very difficult to keep track of all of the caveats and purchase their food accordingly. Yet the entire population of the world is threatened as evinced by a recent article by the Associated Press that told us that “Thirty percent of world is now fat; no country immune.” The corporate interests have their way with us, all the while aware of the fact that most people will do very little to counteract their practices.
Also around Independence Day, we heard and read about the hot dog eating contest and the Bacon Fest. Yet we know that processed meats such as those mentioned should be avoided by anyone interested in good health. Are there no priorities? Is there no shame?
Note the following: “The staggering rise of obesity over the past few decades doesn’t just stem from refined carbohydrates messing with our metabolism; more and more of what we eat comes to us custom designed by the food industry to want more. There’s evidence that processing itself raises the danger posed by food. Studies suggest that processed meats may increase the risk of heart disease in a way that unprocessed meat does not.” — Time Magazine, June 23.
The saddest and most poignant part of the story is that young people, many of whom practically live on such processed meats, sodas, fast and other highly processed foods highly infested with chemical additives, those secret GMOs and the like will be (or already are) the parents of the next generation. And we wonder why premature births, birth defects, ADHD, intellectual deficits and similar keep increasing.
As for chemical additives, facets of the industry are busy developing additives that, when included in our diet, will encourage us to eat more. Of interest is Sweetmyx, developed by PepsiCo Inc., which acts like an artificial sweetener. It is not FDA approved and apparently no one knows just what it is. As Bruce Bradley, consumer food activist, wrote: “Sweetmyx could be yet another additive that may trick our taste buds today, but wreak untold damage over our lifetimes.” The trouble is, manufacturers get to decide whether food additives are safe or not and whether to bother to tell the FDA that the additives are in our food supply.
According to that feature article in Time Magazine, since 1970, we consume 35 percent less refined white sugar, but we’re getting a whole lot more calories from high fructose corn syrup (8,853 percent). Add a 198 percent increase in corn products and we can see where industry is prevailing — especially Monsanto, the mother of genetically modified organisms rampant in products (especially corn and soy) in our markets and have never been tested for safety now or in the long run because the FDA’s obvious condescension to industry.
For us to understand how corporations are taking over our food supply, we must educate ourselves about the problem. For instance, in a Aug. 1 story by the Associated Press, we read that “The Obama administration is overhauling poultry plant inspections for the first time in 50 years, a move, it says, could result in 5,000 fewer food borne illnesses each year.” Many consumer groups, like “Food and Water Watch” see flaws in the plan, calling it “a gift from the Obama administration to the industry.”
As Michelle Simon wrote in “Appetite for Profit”: “Because corporations have no moral obligation to society, we cannot expect food companies to ‘do the right thing;’ nor should we believe them when they say that they are.”
Since 1984, Dorothy Dimitre has written more than 750 columns for various local newspapers. Her email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.