• Monthly
  • $25
  • $50
  • $100
  • $other
  • use PayPal

ONE WEEK TO DOUBLE YOUR DONATION!

A generous CounterPuncher has offered a $25,000 matching grant. So for this week only, whatever you can donate will be doubled up to $25,000! If you have the means, please donate! If you already have done so, thank you for your support. All contributions are tax-deductible.
FacebookTwitterRedditEmail

Food as Corporate WMD

The Agribusiness Examiner

Food, next to life itself, has become our greatest common denominator. Its availability, quality, price, its reflection of the culture it feeds and its moral and religious significance make it quite literally history’s “staff of life.”

Today, in the never-ending worldwide struggle to determine who will control its production, quality and accessibility, food is no longer viewed first and foremost as a sustainer of life. Rather, to those who seek to command and control our food supply it has become instead a major source of corporate cash flow, economic leverage, a form of currency, a tool of international politics, an instrument of power — a weapon!

As we in the United States prepare to celebrate yet another Thanksgiving holiday the vast majority of our citizens are unaware that the claim that they are the cheapest and safest fed people on earth is beginning to ring hallow even as our government and corporate agribusiness seek to perpetuate such myths.

As one reads the stories below it is clear that farmers as well as consumers are paying a higher and higher exacting quantitative and qualitative price — although frequently hidden behind the veil of corporate advertising and government reassurances — for their food.

Corporate agribusiness’s growth throughout the 20th century has been predicated in large measure on political and economic power, power, as Cornel West reminds us, measured by corporate priorities, where corporate and banking elite’s not simply having a disproportionate lot of power and influence that is rarely part of public debate but where it can be questioned and interrogate it in a concrete way.

For the most part farmers — due to a desire to align themselves with the managerial class, historical allegiances to a conservative political tradition, and a need to survive — have acquiesced to such political and economic power. Consumers, meanwhile, accustomed to having ample supplies of food, have remained generally impervious to such power as they deify farming and the rural life while at the same time often denigrating the farmer.

Acknowledging that such political power stems from money and\or people while at the same time recognizing that the production and manufacturing of our food becomes more and more dominated by concentrated economic power, it is incumbent on consumers, being in the majority, to recognize and exercise their political power in behalf of family farm agriculture, and a sustainable, healthy, and affordable food supply.

Thus, today eating has become a political act.

IF we are truly interested in maintaining the integrity of our food, let alone the system that produces, processes and manufactures it, we need to keep in our minds the key word — as Slow Food, USA director Patrick Martins rightfully points out in his New York Times op-ed piece — “traceability.” In other words family farmers need to know what happens to their raw materials after they leave the farm gate and consumers need to understand what happens to it BOTH before and after it leaves the farm gate.

As Vicki Williams, a King Features columnist, wrote several years ago in USA Today: “”The only time I felt truly comfortable about the food I put on my table was when I lived on the farm and grew most of my own . . . Now, I live in an apartment in the city, and am dependent on nameless, faceless strangers to grow, process and ship my food. It seems as if unethical and unsafe practices grow in direct proportion to how far we have lost the trail of accountability. So I don’t always trust them to put my family’s best interest over concern for their bottom line. I don’t like feeling helpless, as if every trip to the grocery is a crap shoot. But I really don’t know who to blame.”

Not only should we be concerned about the safety and quality of the food we eat and the economic and social well-being of the family farmers who grow and produce our food, but attention must also be paid to those men, women and children — domestic and immigrants workers alike — who labor in our fields and orchards.

It was on Thanksgiving Day, 1960 that famed CBS News journalist Edward R. Murrow stood in an open Florida field and opened his now famous television documentary “Harvest of Shame” by announcing “This is CBS Reports, `Harvest of Shame,’ it has to do with the men, women and children who harvest the crops in this country of ours, the best fed nation on earth, these are the forgotten people, the under protected, the under educated, the under clothed, the under fed.

“We present this report on Thanksgiving because if it were not for the labor of the people you are going to meet, you might not starve, but your table would not be laden with the luxuries that we have all come to regard as essentials. We should like you to me some of your fellow citizens who harvest the food for the best fed nation on earth . . . ”

Unfortunately, the impact of “Harvest of Shame” was short lived on the public as have been numerous other documentaries since on the plight of farm workers. But the fact remains they still are the “forgotten people,” particularly when we sit down for our annual holiday feasts.

So it might serve us well — both spiritually and materially — that when we sit down to this year’s cornucopia that in giving thanks for our blessings we resolve in the months ahead to not only exercise some “traceability,” but concern for the labor that bestowed upon us these gifts of the earth.

As the Catholic Worker’s Dorothy Day reminded us frequently in her long and remarkable life devoted to social and economic justice: “One day at our Catholic Worker farm, John Filliger, talking of drying up a cow a few months before she was about to calve, said, `the only way to do it with a good cow like this is to milk her out on the ground. She gets so mad at the waste of her milk that she dries right up.’ That may be an old wives’ tale — or an old farmers’ tale, in this case — but there is a lesson in it: if we waste what we have, the sources of supply will dry up. Any long range view of the colossal waste of the resources of the earth and human life points to an exhaustion of our economy, not to speak of man himself.”

Bon appetit!!!

Al Krebs is the editor of the indispensable Agribusiness Examiner. He can be reached at: avkrebs@earthlink.net

More articles by:
bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550
October 15, 2019
Victor Grossman
The Berlin Wall, Thirty Years Later
Raouf Halaby
Kurdish Massacres: One of Britain’s Many Original Sins
Robert Fisk
Trump and Erdogan have Much in Common – and the Kurds will be the Tragic Victims of Their Idiocy
Ron Jacobs
Betrayal in the Levant
Wilma Salgado
Ecuador: Lenin Moreno’s Government Sacrifices the Poor to Satisfy the IMF
Ralph Nader
The Congress Has to Draw the Line
William A. Cohn
The Don Fought the Law…
John W. Whitehead
One Man Against the Monster: John Lennon vs. the Deep State
Lara Merling – Leo Baunach
Sovereign Debt Restructuring: Not Falling Prey to Vultures
Norman Solomon
The More Joe Biden Stumbles, the More Corporate Democrats Freak Out
Jim Britell
The Problem With Partnerships and Roundtables
Howard Lisnoff
More Incitement to Violence by Trump’s Fellow Travelers
Binoy Kampmark
University Woes: the Managerial Class Gets Uppity
Joe Emersberger
Media Smears, Political Persecution Set the Stage for Austerity and the Backlash Against It in Ecuador
Thomas Mountain
Ethiopia’s Abiy Ahmed Wins Nobel Peace Prize, But It Takes Two to Make Peace
Wim Laven
Citizens Must Remove Trump From Office
October 14, 2019
Ann Robertson - Bill Leumer
Class Struggle is Still the Issue
Mike Miller
Global Climate Strike: From Protest To Power?
Patrick Cockburn
As Turkey Prepares to Slice Through Syria, the US has Cleared a New Breeding Ground for Isis
John Feffer
Trump’s Undeclared State of Emergency
Dean Baker
The Economics and Politics of Financial Transactions Taxes and Wealth Taxes
Jonah Raskin
What Evil Empire?
Nino Pagliccia
The Apotheosis of Emperors
Evaggelos Vallianatos
A Passion for Writing
Basav Sen
The Oil Despots
Brett Wilkins
‘No Friend But the Mountains’: A History of US Betrayal of the Kurds
John Kendall Hawkins
Assange: Enema of the State
Scott Owen
Truth, Justice and Life
Thomas Knapp
“The Grid” is the Problem, Not the Solution
Rob Kall
Republicans Are Going to Remove Trump Soon
Cesar Chelala
Lebanon, Dreamland
Weekend Edition
October 11, 2019
Friday - Sunday
Becky Grant
CounterPunch in Peril?
Anthony DiMaggio
Fake News in Trump’s America
Andrew Levine
Trump’s End Days
Jeffrey St. Clair
High Plains Grifter: the Life and Crimes of George W. Bush
Patrick Cockburn
Kurdish Fighters Always Feared Trump Would be a Treacherous Ally
Paul Street
On the TrumpenLeft and False Equivalence
Dave Lindorff
Sure Trump is ‘Betraying the Kurds!’ But What’s New about That?
Rob Urie
Democrats Impeach Joe Biden, Fiddle as the Planet Burns
Sam Pizzigati
Inequality is Literally Killing Us
Jill Richardson
What Life on the Margins Feels Like
Mitchell Zimmerman
IMPOTUS: Droit de seigneur at Mar-a-Lago
Robert Hunziker
Methane SOS
Lawrence Davidson
Donald Trump, the Christian Warrior
William Hartung – Mandy Smithburger
The Pentagon is Pledging to Reform Itself, Again. It Won’t.
FacebookTwitterRedditEmail