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I call it corporate food, but it is more accurately U.S. government/corporate food, as the two entities work hand in hand to inflate the price of nutritious, whole foods.  Government subsidies, established in the 20′s and 30′s, when 25% of the population lived on family farms, have shifted to industrial farms.  The bulk of current subsidies goes to the production of corn, much of which is devoted to ethanol.  A great deal of the corn, however, is used towards the production of processed foods, thereby deflating their cost.  A result of this practice in the last three decades is that farmers have lost the incentive to grow fruits and vegetables, which then drives prices even higher.  Inflated prices of whole foods is the main culprit, worldwide, of food insecurity and obesity.

Big Ag focuses exclusively on the production of food, which overlooks the main cause of food insecurity, which is the over-commodization of our food supply.  By treating food as a commodity that can be speculated on for pure profit, the U.S. has effectively put an adequate diet out of the reach of one in six people.  An extension of this focus is that, as Charles Z. Levkoe, Administrator at Canadian Association for Food Studies, says, our food system now is “increasing focus on people, not as citizens, but as consumers.”

Previous to the 1980′s, a futures market for agricultural commodities was tightly regulated and served as a stabilizing tool.  Farmers and wholesalers were allowed to sell their future output at a locked-in price which protected agriculture from pricing shifts caused by extreme weather or the cost of fuel.  Starting in the 80′s, however, government and industry colluded to de-regulate the food market.  This policy shift allowed for increased speculation on agricultural futures by such entities as banks, hedge funds, pension managers and university endowments.  And then, famously, in 2007, when the housing bubble burst, Wall Street began to focus almost exclusively on food futures, which caused prices to triple from those in 2005.

As food prices increase and wages stagnate, the obvious result is that people must decide whether to pay an exorbitant amount of their monthly income on food or eat fewer nutritionally balanced items.  If money is scare, it’s sometimes ones only option to try to fill our needs with cheap processed foods.  High calorie, low nutrition foods are the only options for many people, hence the relationship between hunger and obesity.

While obesity rates span all populations, Blacks and Hispanics suffer more from this condition than do Whites.  Not only is there a large disparity in income between races, the relocation of supermarkets from the inner city to suburban areas limits, too, the availability of healthier food choices.  Food Deserts have become a growing part of our national conversation, but very little is being done to address the problem.

I’m increasingly concerned about the availability of nutritious, affordable food.  Food banks, while serving populations that should instead be served by their governments, only contribute to the problem of obesity as they must distribute what they are given and the majority of this is in the form of processed food.  The U.S. government, too, needs to muster enough political will to heavily regulate Wall Street’s involvement in our supply.  Rather than promote fast food, our government should take an active role in reducing food as a commodity.  Michael Masters, a hedge fund manager who gave testimony on speculation and food prices in 2008, said “Financial speculation now accounts for more than two-thirds of the market…When billions of dollars of capital is being put to work in small markets like this, it amplifies price rises and if financial flows amplify prices of food stuffs and energy, it’s not like real estate and stocks – when food prices double, people starve.”

Recipe of the Week

I like to purchase fresh salmon from the Indians, especially as it is at least half the cost of what I can get in the stores.  Having  a good, cheap source of protein is a good thing, but it’s hard to vary how it’s served and cooked.  This last time I decided to simply coat it in barbecue sauce and grill, and the outcome was just fine.  Served over lightly dressed greens and with corn on the cob, it’s a perfect summer meal.

I am a scattered person, and completely forgot to pick up the items I wanted from the store to make the sauce.  I then experimented with what I had on hand, and came up with a perfectly good barbecue sauce.  I tried to make just enough to cover the roughly 1.5 lb piece of salmon, but made enough for double that.

1/2 cup organic ketchup

1/4 cup red wine vinegar

1/8 cup Worcestershire sauce

1 tbls. dijon mustard

a few grindings of black pepper

2 tbls butter

1/2 cup water

2 tbls. brown sugar

Combine all ingredients but the butter in a small pot.  Bring to a simmer and cook for about 15 minutes, stirring now and again.  Turn off the heat and whisk in the butter.  Cool.  Just before grilling, coat the salmon heavily with the sauce and grill, skin side down until the meat is opaque.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Your opening seems off the mark a bit... (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    allie4fairness, VClib

    You wrote:

    The bulk of current subsidies goes to the production of corn, much of which is devoted to ethanol.  A great deal of the corn, however, is used towards the production of processed foods, thereby deflating their cost.
    Only about 15% of the US corn crop is used for food and beverage. From Forbes, 20 Apr 2014:
    In 2000, over 90% of the U.S. corn crop went to feed people and livestock, many in undeveloped countries, with less than 5% used to produce ethanol. In 2013, however, 40% went to produce ethanol, 45% was used to feed livestock, and only 15% was used for food and beverage.
    If you want to dig into the raw numbers, here's the source Forbes cited.

    The word "parent" is supposed to be a VERB, people...

    by wesmorgan1 on Sun Jun 29, 2014 at 12:15:18 PM PDT

  •  Thanks, Robocop (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    allie4fairness, USHomeopath

    A very succinct summing up of how our very food is being gambled upon by Wall Street and how it hurts the poor, contributing to obesity and malnutrition.

    Having profit driven corporations in charge of our food supply is pure madness. The UN Commission on Trade and Development warns that our current agrochemical food industry is leading us down a path to famine because it is commodifying our agricultural lands and crops to serve markets--and I don't mean the Farmer's Market.

    Here is an article about the UNCTAD report called Wake Up Before its Too Late.

    We have it within our power to make the world over again ~ Thomas Paine

    by occupystephanie on Sun Jun 29, 2014 at 12:48:35 PM PDT

    •  I Endorse This UN Report (0+ / 0-)

      Direct Link. (pdf)

      Elements and key achievements of the required transformation of agriculture, elaborated upon by the authors of this Review, include:

      Increasing soil carbon content and better integration between crop and livestock production, and increased incorporation
      (not segregation) of trees (agroforestry) and wild vegetation.

      Reduction of direct and indirect (i.e. through the feed chain) greenhouse-gas emissions of livestock production.

      Reduction of indirect (i.e. changes in land-use-induced) GHG emissions through sustainable peatland, forest and grassland

      Optimization of organic and inorganic fertilizer use, including through closed nutrient cycles in agriculture.

      Reduction of waste throughout the food chains.

      Changing dietary patterns towards climate-friendly food consumption.

      Reform of the international trade regime for food and agricultural products.

      Vai o tatu-bola escamoso encontrar-me onde estou escondendo? Lembro-me do caminho de ouro, uma pinga de mel, meu amado Parati (-8.75,-8.36)

      by tarkangi on Sun Jun 29, 2014 at 02:33:23 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Yesterday in the grocery store I was chatting with (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    George3, Greyhound

    the older lady behind me about how grocery prices have doubled in the last few years. The official government BS about the lack of inflation means nothing in the grocery store.

    in 2007, when the housing bubble burst, Wall Street began to focus almost exclusively on food futures, which caused prices to triple from those in 2005.
    Thanks for providing some truthful information about the real inflation in my food bills.
  •  puzzled... what's the point of eating salmon... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    if one goes to so much work to make it TASTE "NOT like salmon"? I really don't understand; I personally like the taste of salmon.

    But then I seem to like the taste and texture of a lot of things that apparently most people want to complicate and change... MANY recipes seem to have dozens of ingredients. If I wanted to taste those individual ingredients I'd find a more direct way to do it... all the suggested combinations seem bent on hiding or changing the qualities of the "main" components, and again, I ask, "what's the point of that!?"

    Also the "smoked" salmon in the vacuum-packs these days are absolutely sloshing in sugary juices and/or "smoke" substance. The "smoked" salmon I remember from 50 years ago was a LOT dryer that this stuff is now-a-days. If I wanted chewy sugar syrup, I'd go to the candy aisle!

    "real" work : a job where you wash your hands BEFORE you use the bathroom...

    by chimene on Sun Jun 29, 2014 at 07:47:40 PM PDT

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