Thursday, April 30, 2009

Along with the illusion of abundance, supermarkets create an illusion of choice (40 types of breakfast cereals! 60 varieties of juices!). However, if you look at the ingredients, this illusion breaks down rapidly.

The illusion of the package:

Each year, more than 15,000 new food products come to market in the U.S. ... However, these introductions rarely represent an increase in food choices for the consumers. The packages attempt to hide the fact that we are essentially increasing the same set of ingredients over and over, even though they go by different names. ... a full 95% of the calories we eat come from only 30 varieties of plants.
The loss of diversity:
By growing all our crops in monoculture, industrial agriculture not only limits what we can eat today, but also reduces the choices of future generations. ... a study of the seed stock readily available in 1903 vursus the inventory of the U.S. National Seed Storage Laboratory... found an astounding loss of diversity: we lost nearly 93% of lettuce, over 96% of field corn, about 91% of field corn, more than 95% of tomato, and almost 98% of asparagus varieties.
"Big Food" dictates what we eat:

A handful of companies own most of the food brands in the market. For example, Kraft Foods, (the second largest food company in the world, after Nestlé) owns around 150 brands worldwide. Large food manufacturers have also been acquiring and introducing organic brands.

Why does this matter?
The goverment, bending under pressure from agribusiness, has never required labels that inform consumers about pesticides and other chemicals used on crops, or the residues still left on those foods at the time of purchase. ... "nuked" processed foods are not labled*. ... under pressure from the biotechnology industry, [the U.S. FDA] has decided not to require genetically engineered foods to be independently safety tested or labled. ... Agribusiness not only uses its political muscle to prevent food labling, it also has pushed through laws to stop critics from getting importnat information about food to consumers ... [by pressuring] 13 states to pass "food disparagement" legislation.
What's the alternative?
By choosing ... local, small-scale organic farming ... we could not only give ourselved the choice of safe and healthy food and a cleaner environment, but we could also incorporate literally thousands of ddifferent varieties and tastes into our diets.
- pg 58-59, Fatal Harvest.

*For the latest on food irradiation labling, see here.



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