Last week, Rajiv Shah, the administrator of the US Agency for International Development, made the statement that we need big business to help end hunger in Africa.
Big business, as in Monsanto, which has grabbed up millions of acres to turn them into a monoculture, growing corn for processed, chemical-laden foods that are far less nutritious than food grown the way Nature intended. Monsanto has sued farmers near its industrialized farms because pollen from its genetically modified seeds has mixed with their seed. Monsanto wants the royalties. In other words, it is forcing family farms out of business so its seed is the only seed available to growers.
Once the crops are grown in this chemical-infested earth, it moves to processing plants, where more chemicals are added to dye and preserve the “food.”
People who eat this crap are getting fewer nutrients and many more damaging chemicals than people who eat food grown locally on small farms.
For example, no matter what the “corn sugar” commercials say, high-fructose corn syrup is not the same as sugar and your body doesn’t metabolize it the same way it does sugar. The more high-fructose corn syrup you ingest, the more likely you are to develop Type 2 diabetes.
If you look at the rates of obesity and Type 2 diabetes, it all started to skyrocket in the 1970s, when high-fructose corn syrup and palm oil began to be used widely in foods. Both helped bring longer shelf-life to foods and minimized waste, driving food prices down, which seemed great for business and consumers alike.
But there is a dark side to this failed food revolution: It makes us sick.
The epidemic of obesity and Type 2 diabetes is immensely costly. Diabetes affects every system in the body, causing nerve damage in the hands and feet, slow healing of wounds, kidney damage, high blood pressure and strokes, heart disease and blindness. The money we spend on drugs to treat diabetes in this country could feed the world and provide universal health care.
So, why don’t we do something?
Because big business likes the way things are. There’s huge profit to be made on unhealthy foods and on the drugs used to treat the illnesses that are caused by bad nutrition. Big business will spend billions to lobby against the public interest, even as it kills off its customers (remember Big Tobacco’s claim that nicotine isn’t addictive and that cigarettes don’t cause cancer?). It is greedy and short-sighted.
But you don’t have to buy into it. Here’s how you can avoid the effects of bad food:
We don’t have to sentence our children to a lifetime of illness and disability. If more of us support the Local Food movement, we’ll see less obesity and diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure … It’s really worth the price. And there’s the added bonus of pissing off the people who run the big food corporations.