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I've seen the future (of food) and it's scary!

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(Non-Tech opinion alert. If you're looking for a technical post - nothing to see here, move along...)


I just got done watching The Future of Food and thought I had to make a few comments. The movie is basically a look an admittedly one sided look at the consolidation of the food supply in the US and the fact that a handful of large companies are using every trick in the book to control the food supply and doing so with rather questionable methods and without any regard on the long term effects that genetic engineering and crowding out of local farmers has on food viability and sustainability.


All of this is nothing new, but once again it is just shocking to see the corruption that exists in the United States government and how far it reaches up the chain. The institutions in the government – the FDA (eh, the pharmaceutical lobby) and the Department of Agriculture who are supposed to be looking out for the public interest are almost entirely staffed by corporate flunkies who have turned the oversight process into little more than a farce to allow anything goes in the ultimate in Laissez Faire economics. Any system that uses ‘self-regulation’ for saftety and health standards is clearly not driven trhough public responsibility but a free for all license to do nothing but what the bottom line demands.


A lot of this is our own fault due to our own ignorance and apathy – we seem to continue to keep re-electing people into office who clearly do not have a conscience and who put their political or financial gain before that of the people they represent. And issues like this are clearly by-partisan issues so this is not something that can be painted into the limited two party black and white script…


If you really think about it, our current state of affairs where the control from the top is driven purely through corporate politics with corporations representing just about all the federal agencies, rather than the independent and scientifically oriented body you would expect.  Can you really trust your government any longer? So many lies and truly colored and biased views that make up the law of the land – all in favor of big corporations and their bottom line. And it's not even looking out for companies and business in general but only for those handful of mega corporations at the top of the heap. It’s so bad that corruption and lies are so common that we actually expect it from our politicians and we are surprised – no shocked - when politicians actually do the honorable thing! Shameful that…


Anyway I disgress, the sad part about all of this is how little there is known about the issues at hand and how viciously the big corporations that have a stake in continued lax standards are going after any break in the ranks. From going after scientists who ‘dare’ to speak out against the GMO technology or effects from companies using their patents to blackmail small farmers.


I’m in Hood River, Oregon at the moment and there are many small local farmers in this area, thankfully, so we have access to a local and non-big-corporate food supply here in a variety of places.  And yes there’s no doubt about it eating healthy and organic food is considerably more expensive than eating most of the cheap crap and de-nourished food you buy in the super-market. I tend to think that it's worth it because the food simply tastes better than non-organic food. But no doubt more expensive and it doesn't keep nearly as long as non-organic food - a clear giveaway for 'tinkered' food. I suppose that’s the price to pay for more healthy food and in a way provide a small subsidy to the local food producers if possible.


But even that’s getting difficult with the government muddling with the labeling of food and what can be called organic and what can’t. With big corporations trying to now also trying to cash in on the ‘organic’ market it gets even more scary to get alternatives. When the Organic food label was introduced a few years back in the late nineties the original specification - influenced by the USDA - had no resemblence to true organic food. Even GMO food was originally allowed and it took a large public outcry to get that decision rectified. But just the balls of this flunky agency to try to sell off a clearly incorrect label gives you a good idea just how much trust you can really have in the FDA and USDA 'labeling' system that is meant to ensure YOUR safety! Those fuckers!


Even today this is an iffy affair - I’m not so sure these days when you see an organic pear grown in Mexico or in Argentina… it’s certainly not the same as the organic apple you bought at the farmers market. The regulations now are more strict on what constitutes organic food, but who's checking?


I also know a few of the farmers out here and while certainly not all of them are ‘green’ farmers, most of these small farmers are barely scraping by getting cut out of the market by subsidized corporations and various scare tactics from big companies. There are many a story around these relatively small time businesses of corporate pressure tactics and simple buy out offers that are not always easy to pass up. The thing that is scary on that end is that the number of small time farmers is reducing very rapidly leaving more and more in the hands of big conglomerates that own everything from seed production, to growing, to delivery and remanufacturing into processed foods. All without any real oversight!


But I am always amazed by how few people bother to understand a little more about the food they put in their body and more importantly to wonder where that food comes from and how it was grown. Genetically engineered plants and fruit. Anti-biotically pumped seafood. Unsanitarily raised life stock - all under the 'safe and good to eat' label of the USDA.


That’s if the food is even grown at all – too many people live entirely on a diet of processed food which in this country conveniently doesn’t need to be labeled with everything that it’s composed of. Including the status of whether the food contains genetically engineered food (and chances are that if wheat or corn are in the processed food it likely is!). There may not be any conclusive proof that genetically engineered food is not safe yet, but that doesn’t mean that it’s safe either. Yeah DTD was once ‘supposed’ to be safe too…  


Take the time to think about this and if this concerns you at all, put your money where your mouth is and say no to big corporate food items. The only way that these companies understand is the bottom line and since government regulations are clearly not going to happen in light of the corruption the only vote we have is with our money… don’t support them any more than you have to.



The Voices of Reason


Nic Wise
September 11, 2006

# re: I've seen the future (of food) and it's scary!

Rick, I assume you have seen this


It's a good watch. That, what you are talking about, and the book fast food nation (and the "sequel" refer madness) are why I try to go mostly vegetarian when ever I visit the US (I'm from New Zealand)



Steve from Pleasant Hill
September 11, 2006

# re: I've seen the future (of food) and it's scary!

Amen, brother. Saw this years ago when I lived in the mid-West for a bit -- the farmer is squeezed from all sides by government, seed and fertilzer companies, etc. Perhaps go rent the movie "Soylent Green" to see the government's idea of the future of food.

Each family should own seeds that bear plants that bear seeds. Each family should learn to grow their own food and trade with other families, and how to control pests with other bugs rather than pesticides.

A day may come when you cannot get these seeds, the plants they produce will become contaminated by genetically altered (non-seed bearing) plants, rendering them useless, and laws will be passed that prevent you from growing your own food. Already in some countries it is illegal not to buy water, or to collect rain water for yourself.

Surely organic farmers and food consumers must have a lawyer or two? Get a law passed that makes it illegal to have pollen from genetically altered plants "neuter" healthy plants (such as by growing them too close to each other), or something.

Here in Northern CA there are many boutique growers, and besides farmers markets they have "upscale" restaurants to sell to, etc.

Here we have Whole Foods (a rip off) and Trader Joe's (which I have seen grow and grow over the past 20 years), where at least you can buy milk and meat for your kids without growth hormones -- so we do have some choices, but it is not that way everywhere.

Washington and corporations work 24X7 to reduce man's independence -- each person must vote with their wallet and hopefully the good business people can organize on the politcal and legal fronts.

Rick Strahl
September 11, 2006

# re: I've seen the future (of food) and it's scary!

Steve, it's getting harder and harder to vote with your wallet either as big corp is buying up the little guys. THere was big gig last year in Hawaii where one of the local organic farmers accepted a buy out offer and shortly after the organic stuff was first selling non-organics under the organic label and then completely stopping organic growth at all after a minimal fine was that was little more than a slap on the wrist was assigned.

As far as 'getting a law passed' that's never going to happen. Big corps got lobbyists in all the right places and greasing the palms of politicians with bribes that is no match for anything but the mega corporations. THese numbers are in the millions from single companies like Monsanto alone and funnel into election campaigns which is the ultimate channel of corruption in this system.

We're rapidly heading down a downward spiral were control and choice is slipping away from the populace at large... And it's not just the food. The Medicine and 'health' sector is even worse...

It's all very depressing...

September 11, 2006

# re: I've seen the future (of food) and it's scary!

You forgot to mention the Super-Bug that is stewing, a bi-product of the antibiotic pumping that is a staple of the farmed seafood and poultry industries. Not that I would object to an earth-cleansing natural disaster (anyone read "The Earth Abides"?), but it should be for a better reason than $3/lb salmon at Costco.

And Rick, man you've changed, you're WAY different than before.....

September 11, 2006

# re: I've seen the future (of food) and it's scary!

What about the supermarkets that increasingly dominate feed retail. They constantly pressure suppliers to reduce cost, leading to replacement of the little guy by corporates who achieve standard quality and price using additives and processing.
If consumers don't like this, will they stop using supermarkets or pay a bit extra for natural foods? Unlikely. They'll complain and protest, then they'll go to the supermarket and complain and protest again if things cost more. That's the trouble. People want to have their cake and eat it too.

September 12, 2006

# re: I've seen the future (of food) and it's scary!

Hmm, no wonder there are so many fat people in the US. With al that genetically engineered food. It can't be healthty for your body. Glad i'am from holland where gen-food is still prohibited by law.

Steve from Pleasant Hill
September 12, 2006

# re: I've seen the future (of food) and it's scary!

September 12, 2006

# re: I've seen the future (of food) and it's scary!

Same here in Switzerland. Within the last 15 year almost a third of the farmers went out of business. On the other hand not just a few of the young farmers got really innovative concerning their products (i.e. organic food). They even rediscovered some old species (tomatoes for example) and they taste really delicious, that means they taste like tomatoes..

Fortunately the two biggest supermarkets chain are kind of competing each other with organic food. So there's not a shortage of organic food right now and a real alternative for farmers here around, although it takes a few years to switch to organic food production.

Right now genetically engineered food is officially prohibited. But our government experiences a lot of pressure from the USA and our own industry which is "great" in genetic research...

What the future brings? Only time will tell. But it's kind of scary.

PS: Right now there's quit a hype in the news. The biggest supermarket chain stops selling California Rice, because the found traces of the genetically engineered rice LL601 in it.

September 12, 2006

# re: I've seen the future (of food) and it's scary!

Supermarkets in Britain are actively competing to be "the" organic supplier to the masses, using product imported from all over the world. So if there is a demand for organic produce, it *will* appear on shelves. The question is: are people here representative? I know several people who actively prefer processed "American" cheese over healthier alternatives, even if the price is similar.

Rick Strahl
September 13, 2006

# re: I've seen the future (of food) and it's scary!

Organic food here is big business and becoming more so, but it's nothing like in Europe. For now it seems like the healthy side of things are completely separated out, which is part of the problem - you can't find it in too many places and unless you live in alternative place (which I luckily do) or in a biggish city you gotta go out of your way to do the healthy thing and pay dearly for it on top of (although I'd argue that's one place where it doesn't pay to be cheap!).

The thing that has me worried is that big companies getting in on this and mucking with the regulations of what constitutes organic. A lot of this boils down to having CORRECT information and being sure that the standards are actually upheld.

March 20, 2007

# re: I've seen the future (of food) and it's scary!

I'm from Germany and i've seen this movie, too. What i can say is that you are absolutely right. With sorrow, i'm looking to the future. And what i can not understand is that the ones who get money from the handfulls and even the handfulls themself eat this genetic food. The food that is provingly responsible for the increase of the allergies and other deseases and the death of animals and maybe humans worldwide. It's like a baby that has found a mine and now it's playing with it.

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