Sunday, October 16, 2011

Slow, Fair, Humane, Healthful Food: "Occupy the Food System"

Slow Food USA's blog: "Occupy Wall Street: What’s food got to do with it?"
...good, clean, and fair food IS a value of the activists. But what does it have to do with Wall Street?

Food justice writer and activist Jan Poppendeick says the connection is corporate control of agriculture. The statistics are staggering (90% of the corn market is dominated by 3 companies, for example) and the resulting degradation of human health and the environment endangers our health, and the future health of our food supply.

Reclaiming control of the food system from corporate entities is one of the written tenets of the OWS declaration: “[corporations] have poisoned the food supply through negligence, and undermined the farming system through monopolization.” Another tenet speaks to animal cruelty inflicted by the common industrial practice of confining animals into tight quarters with abhorrent conditions...

With so many messages on t-shirts and banners it’s hard for any one to rise to the top, but it’s clear that food activists are present on the scene. As Sheila Salmon Nichols noted on our Facebook page, “We might not all agree on all the ideologies of OWS…however, their position on what is happening to our food system is spot-on! Hopefully, this collective energy will move our country/world in a more positive, peaceful, and sustainable direction!”
Comment: The connection between the poor quality of the culture of food in the US and control of our food systems by extremely large companies as mentioned above is spot on. Major advertising budgets target children and adults with ads that have almost nothing to do with health, community or long term life-satisfaction.

"Food Inc." pointed out some of the ways that large companies are willing to directly harm small farmers - who are the best chance for renewed innovation and responsibility in agriculture - for the sake of a few more pennies profit, and increased control over farmers seeds and practices. I strongly support Occupy Wall Street for the simple reason that they are helping all of us to understand the connections between the systems we’ve created and our current reality...

Comment: Many of the rank and file dairy farmers are supportive of Occupy Wall Street.

We have watched as a handful of companies have come to dominate the prices that we receive for our milk. A handful of traders control the Chicago Mercantile Exchange that sets the price of cheese that tranlates into milk price formulas. The most spectacular display of greed was in 2009 when dairy farmers were committing suicides from milk prices that dropped to $9 0r $10 for 100 pounds of milk. There are 8.6 pounds of milk in a gallon) You, the consumer, continued to pay the same in the store. Farmers were committing suicide in rural areas. The CEO of Dean Foods, the nation’s largest milk processor, took home a cool $66,000,000 that year according to Bloomberg.

As markets have become more consolidated, the companies have tightened their grip on us, the average farmers. Our share of the dairy retail dollar has dropped tremendously over the past decade. The leaders of even the largest cooperatives will tell you that Walmart has big power to push us back and down in price. The biggest dairy companies in the US have just piloted an ad campaign to force the prices paid down to the farmers.

Where will this all end? Thank you, Occupy Wall Street. Some of us will try to get to smaller occupy wall street demonstrations since it is hard for us to leave the cows, it is difficult to travel to big cities, but we are with you.

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