Or, the fox guarding the henhouse is now in the coop
The USDA was originally in the business of promoting the sale of all U.S. agricultural products back when “down on the farm” meant where the real food was. At this point in its crumbling bureaucracy, it appears that the USDA is never going to tell us not to eat you-name-it from any food processing conglomerate (agri-biz) even if that item is hazardous to our health. Their prosecutorial agenda appears to prefer the producer and purveyor of the soon-to-be-extinct unprocessed food "threat".
According to the USDA, three-quarters of us want to eat healthier, and in 2002 the global market for organic food and drink reached $23 billion, partly in response to the USDA’s relaxation of national organic standards. Thirty-nine percent of the U.S. population uses organic products — but, according to New York Times writer Michael Pollan in his latest book, In Defense of Food, An Eater’s Manifesto, a shocking forty-nine percent of everybody’s diet is glucose when all is said and done — yes, sugar. This high-powered jet fuel either stimulates the “fight or flight” response as its burn over time overloads the adrenal and pancreatic systems, or it gets converted to fat that is deposited around the mid-section. There is absolutely no way around this dietary response at present; Mr. Pollan makes the point that it is possible humans may evolve a better one, but in the meantime, it takes more than a few laps to even partially offset that morning bagel and latte or any other of the nearly half the food now available to eat in the USA.
Meanwhile, down on the Farm-Aid organization says that every week 330 farmers leave their land and only 565,000 farms are defined as being family operated. As these family farms are shut down at the rate of one every minute, they are not being replaced. According to Farm Aid, only 6% of all farmers are under the age of 35. Folks, this does not bode well for the future choices of 85% of Americans that trust smaller-scale family farms to produce safe, nutritious, let alone organic, food! See how your opinion matters as the Senate and House try to fix the Food and Farm Bill for 2008. At issue, among other important issues, is government-subsidized antibiotic use in cattle for successful sustainable farming. Weigh in, won’t you?
I was first concerned and then alarmed when reading the information from Dr. Phil Howard of Michigan State on Cornucopia.net that organic processors and small operations have been acquired by large agri-biz companies at a stepped-up rate since December 1997 — between the time that the draft USDA Organic standard was released and its considerably-relaxed implementation in October, 2002 — after which most introductions of the organic versions of well-known brands occurred. Mass market channels of well-known brands accounted for 46% of all organic foods sold in the US in 2005. By now that could be well over half. The multi-billion dollar organic market will have its product — likely from far-away and uncontrollable Asia.
Count me as one who wants my food to come from the disappearing other half — the real food, stuff grandma would savor. Few companies identify these ownership ties on product labels, preferring customers to believe their food still comes from the “Farmer-in-the-dell” instead of farms-gone-to … well, you know what I mean.
I highly recommend Michael Pollan’s new book and the Cornucopia website for further information about this dire situation.
Some small operations, such as Dove Organic, have been developed specifically for Wal-Mart, which is ranked the #1 supermarket for volume in North America. Venture capitalists are steadily acquiring brands within the same sector (bread, meat, etc.) with plans to sell them for significant gain at a later date.
Nearly a year ago, Phil Howard, a Michigan State University Professor of Agriculture, published for the Cornucopia Institute a simple-to-read graphic detailing the organic industry structure both of small organic food company acquisitions by the top food processors in North America and tracing the Private Label brands. Professor Howard cautions:
"As a large company publicly affiliates with its organic brand, it becomes vulnerable to added scrutiny that could reveal that 10% or less of its overall operations is sustainable or organic."
This present-day scene could be a micro-directed world soap opera that began 70 years ago. F. William Engdahl’s book, Seeds of Destruction, The Hidden Agenda of Genetic Manipulation, makes an open-and-shut case that the agri-biz agenda actually designed and planned this pseudo(processed)-food as a means of population control called Eugenics way back in the 1930’s and carries this advanced form of genocide on today under its new label, Genetically Modified Organisms (GMO).
And most worrisome of all, distribution, particularly of processed organic foods, is dangerously dominated by just two huge multinational corporations: United Natural Foods in the United States and Tree of Life in the Netherlands.
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