In 2008 a documentary was made about our food supply in America – how it’s created, how it’s perpetuated.

In 2010 I learned about food ingredients and started to get really peeved.  I began sharing everything I learned with you.

Earlier this year I started focusing on the meat and dairy products I purchase.  I grew concerned about the unsanitary and abhorrent conditions our “farm” animals live in.

This weekend I watched the documentary and was blown away by what I view as nothing more than absolute corruption of our values and our food supply.  Even as much as I already knew about the food industry, I was still blown completely away.  And I got even more peeved.

The documentary is called Food, Inc. and it explains all about the few main companies that provide us with all those “choices” at our local grocery stores.  It explains the ties that bind the hands of our nation’s farmers, leaving them with little choice if they want to stay in business, even when that business earns them less than $20,000/year.  It  touches on health concerns, food-borne illness, food safety regulation (or lack thereof), animal welfare, cloning, politics, our government, organic farming, genetically modified organisms (GMOs) and immigration issues.  They are all so closely related, it’s actually scary.

The industry doesn’t want you to know the truth about what you’re eating because if you knew, you might not want to eat it.”
Eric Schlosser, author of “Fast Food Nation.”

I bought the DVD from Amazon for $11.  If you can do the same, I encourage you to.

Oh, but you know I’m going to tell you about it anyway, don’t you?

As mortified as I was to see confirmed what I had previously only suspected, I was also enlightened by the documentary.  It really is something EVERYONE should see.  I went to their website to determine the best way to be a sideline voice for the film and the responsibility we consumers have.  I want to show this DVD to all of you.  I want to invite you over, serve dinner and watch it with you.  THAT’S how awesome I think this is.  So I poked around on their site to see if they would be okay with me literally inviting groups of people over and showing the DVD.  I downloaded their press kit.   Yes, I did!  My mom will probably tell you I’m going overboard again.  But if you know me at all through this blog, you probably already know I don’t just stand behind something I believe in. I put my shoulder into it and PUSH! 😉

If you watch the DVD, you’ll learn the following in full-color detail and see farmers and experts and everyday people explaining how this has all happened.  Here’s what I learned that I did not already know:

Monsanto created Round-Up weed killer.  They also genetically modified a soybean seed to be resistant to Round-Up, which means the farmer can spray all the Round-Up  he/she wants on the soybean crop to kill weeds and not harm the crop.  We then consume a multitude of ingredients made from the soybeans that have been sprayed with Round-Up.

Monsanto does not allow its customer farmers to reuse seeds.  Whereas re-using seeds is traditionally environmentally sound, it is considered patent infringement on  Monsanto’s seeds. The farmer must buy new seeds from Monsanto every year, adding to his cost and Monsanto’s profits.   If a Monsanto grower’s farm is located near an organic farm and the wind blows pollen from the Monsanto crop into the organic crop, Monsanto can sue the organic farmer for patent infringement.  And there’s not a damn thing the organic farmer can do about it.  It’s up to him to PROVE he didn’t violate the patent via pollen.  Let’s see…multi-million dollar Monsanto versus one organic farmer. Who do you think can afford more attorneys? (And check out the little factoid in the list at the end to see who upheld Monsanto’s rights and why.)

When corn became our nation’s commodity crop, we could undersell South American corn farmers with our industrial muscle.  So eventually, most of South America’s corn farmers went out of business.  Then our companies began baiting those out-of-work farm-hands with promises of good jobs and big money in the States.  So they came, needing both.  You and I would do the same thing if our business had wilted underneath us and there seemed nowhere else to turn.  Smithfield imports these immigrant workers for low paying jobs in their slaughterhouses.  They have an arrangement with the government that fifteen of those workers per day can be arrested and sent back.  This makes the government look like it’s cracking down on immigration without affecting the labor force of Smithfield, or holding Smithfield accountable.

Just FIVE DAYS of eating grass will remove the vast majority of E. coli from a cow’s system.  Our factory-farm animals are fed corn. (Update: My mom gently pointed out that this fact makes no sense floating out here in the middle of my post with nothing else to support it.  I agree.  It’s just a little bit of information that, if addressed, could save lives.  Just sayin.’)

In addition to all this, I took the following facts from a list included in the press kit made available on their site.

Facts from Food, Inc.:

  • In the 1970s, the top five beef packers controlled about 25% of the market. Today, the top four control more than 80% of the market.
  • In the 1970s, there were thousands of slaughterhouses producing the majority of beef sold. Today, we have only 13.
  • In 1998, the USDA implemented microbial testing for salmonella and E. coli 0157h7 so that if a plant repeatedly failed these tests, the USDA could shut down the plant. After being taken to court by the meat and poultry associations, the USDA no longer has that power.
  • In 1972, the FDA conducted 50,000 food safety inspections. In 2006, the FDA conducted only 9,164.
  • During the Bush administration, the head of the FDA was the former executive VP of the National Food Processors Association.
  • During the Bush administration, the chief of staff at the USDA was the former chief lobbyist for the beef industry in Washington.
  • Prior to renaming itself an agribusiness company, Monsanto was a chemical company that produced, among other things, DDT and Agent Orange.
  • In 1996 when it introduced Round-Up Ready Soybeans, Monsanto controlled only 2% of the U.S. soybean market. Now, over 90% of soybeans in the U.S. contain Monsanto’s patented gene.
  • Supreme Court justice Clarence Thomas was an attorney at Monsanto from 1976 to 1979. After his appointment to the Supreme Court, Justice Thomas wrote the majority opinion in a case that helped Monsanto enforce its seed patents.
  • The average chicken farmer invests over $500,000 and makes only $18,000 a year.
  • 32,000 hogs a day are killed in Smithfield Hog Processing Plant in Tar Heel, N.C, which is the largest slaughterhouse in the world.
  • The average American eats over 200 lbs. of meat a year.
  • 30% of the land in the U.S. is used for planting corn.
  • The modern supermarket now has, on average, 47,000 products, the majority of which is being produced by only a handful of food companies.
  • 70% of processed foods have some genetically modified ingredient.
  • SB63 Consumer Right to Know measure requiring all food derived from cloned animals to be labeled as such passed the California state legislature before being vetoed in 2007 by Governor Schwarzenegger, who said that he couldn’t sign a bill that pre-empted federal law.
  • Corn products include: ketchup, cheese, Twinkies, batteries, peanut butter, cheez-Its, salad dressings, Coke, jelly, Sweet & Low, syrup, juice, Kool-Aid, charcoal, diapers,  Motrin, meat and fast food.
  • Corn, which is the main ingredient in animal feed, is also used as a food additive. Those products commonly include: Cellulose, Xylitol, Maltodextrin, Ethylene, Gluten, Fibersol-2, Citrus Cloud Emulsion, Inosital, Fructose, Calcium Stearate, Saccharin, Sucrose, Sorbital, High Fructose Corn Syrup, Citric Acid, Di-glycerides, Semolina, Sorbic Acid, Alpha Tocopherol, Ethyl Lactate, Polydextrose, Xantham Gum, White Vinegar, Ethel Acetate, Fumaric Acid,  Ascorbic Acid, Baking Powder, Zein, Vanilla Extract, Margarine, and Starch.
  • 1 in 3 Americans born after 2000 will contract early onset diabetes; Among minorities, the rate will be 1 in 2.
  • E. coli and Salmonella outbreaks have become more frequent in America, whether it be from spinach or jalapenos. In 2007, there were 73,000 people  sickened from the E. coli virus.
  • Organics is the fastest growing food segment, increasing 20% annually.

Yay on that last one, right?  That’s us – speaking out!

Food is cheap because it is what we have been offered, and we have gladly bought it.  But it’s also cheap because it is made from inferior (if not altogether fake) ingredients at a very low cost with complete disregard for life – plant and animal.  What does it all come down to in the end?  Well, this is America, so of course the answer is money.  We pay less and the  Corporations make more.  But we are literally BUYING diabetes, infertility, heart disease and cancer.

Yes, we are.

Likely because I am so passionate (even if not overly outspoken) about the food we as Americans consume and because I’m a mom, I found myself swiping tears away more than once while I watched the documentary.  I heard myself gasp at some of the information, and at one part I grew a bit fearful of my penchant for speaking out on this little blog.  But I was reassured and reaffirmed in the end.  WE can affect change!  YOU and I can DO this! We have to change our buying habits.  We have to stay informed.  And we have to demand better of our stores.  Like the film points out, consumer insistence brought down the tobacco industry.  “We’ve done it before.  We can do it again.” It has to come from us.

I’m all in.  Who’s with me?