Article #3: Eat Your Heart Out, Galloping Gourmet by Cary Fowler
Al Krebs of the Agribusiness Accountability Project tells a story about a scene from a popular TV show. “A Fernwood, Ohio, housewife is preparing a packaged pineapple filling pie for her family. As she pours the rather grotesque contents of a can of pineapple filling into the pie pan her sister Kathy, who is watching the process, wonders aloud where the pineapple is.”
“The housewife reads the contents as they appear on the label. Amidst the various acids and flavorings and sugar, no mention is made of pineapple except in the advertising on the label.”
“She pauses and, looking at her sister questioningly, remarks: ‘I don’t see any pineapple listed here.’ Kathy replied: ‘They don’t make food out of food anymore.’ The housewife asked: ‘What do they do with food, if they don’t make food out of it?'”
That’s a good question! Eating is a personal activity all people share. At its core, eating is an emotional experience tying us to our home and upbringing and to the larger society and time in which we live. Yet today, control over nourishment is slipping from our fingers. Decisions about the type, form and quality of food we eat are no longer ours to make.
Control over our nation’s food system has shifted from people like you and me to an economically-concentrated food industry. The dazzling array of food products available at the modern supermarket gives the impression of a vibrant, competitive food industry. We naturally assume that such products as Wyler soup mixes, Borden cheeses, Drake’s cookies, Wise potato chips, Cracker Jacks, Bama jellies, ReaLemon and Kava coffee are made by separate companies, while in fact they are just a few of the many products made by one corporation—Borden.
Likewise, Maxwell House, Brim, Yuban and Sanka coffees, Post cereals, Stove-Top stuffing, Calumet baking powder, Bisquick, Shake ‘n Bake, Jell-O, Cool-Whip, Baker’s Chocolate and Kool-Aid are all made by General Foods, who also owns Burger Chef. Heinz’s 57 varieties have mushroomed to over 1,200.
Of the 1,500 new items made available to the supermarket chains by such corporations each year only a few will reach your grocer’s shelf—those that are highly advertised, those with fast turnover and those with the most attractive profit margins. Competition for shelf space is fierce. Initial decisions about what we will have to eat are made by the supermarket chains when they divvy up their shelf space. And these decisions are based on different values than we ourselves would apply to such a crucial matter as what we eat.
More often than not, the result is one row of fresh fruits and vegetables and ten or twelve rows of boxes and cans. The magazine of the world’s largest agribusiness company, the Dutch-based Unilever Corporation (Lipton tea, Good Humor ice cream, Wish Bone salad dressing, Mrs. Butter-worth’s syrup, Imperial margarine and others) bluntly sized things up when it conceded that “… the return on investment in the basic nutrition business isn’t exactly promising.” This goes a long way towards explaining why the airwaves are full of commercials for french fries and potato chips rather than raw potatoes for baking at home.
Will an Apple a Day Keep the Doctor Away?
As control over our food system has changed hands, alarming shifts in consumption patterns have occurred. From 1950 to 1970 per capita consumption of fresh fruit dropped 26%. Americans ate more sugar than vegetables by weight in 1970. Soft drink sales doubled. Fortunately, a recent study showed that salad bars are becoming increasingly popular, creating a new demand for fresh vegetables, but people still don’t eat enough of them, considering that they usually cook those that aren’t in their salads.
A Department, of Agriculture study has concluded that better diets might reduce diabetes problems by 50 percent, heart disease by 20 percent, obesity by 80 percent, alcoholism by 33 percent and intestinal cancer by 20 percent. Recently studies have linked as much as 50 percent of the cases of hyperactivity in children to the heavy doses of synthetic colorings and flavorings in food.
The Divorce of Food from Nutrition
The individual should scarcely shoulder all the blame for the declining quality of the American diet. Few people with proper regard for “food the way Mother used to cook it” could be accused of having demanded the kinds of food they now eat. The deterioration of food and the divorce of food from nutrition parallels the growth in corporate control over food production and distribution. .Today nearly 75 percent of all food manufacturing assets are controlled by just 50 corporations.
Local, small farmers who once supplied our towns and cities with truly delicious produce have been pushed out of business. Today’s supermarket produce, shipped-in from huge corporate farms in Florida or California, is a far cry in quality, taste and price from the locally-grown products we once had.
Our relation to food is no longer our relation to nature or even to local farmers and neighborhood grocery stores. We relate to food through the new suppliers. Food (most of it, that is) may still come from the good earthy but only after it has passed through the fingers of a General Foods or a Del Monte. Food has thus become just another commodity to be manufactured, altered, packaged and sold like toothpaste or razor blades. Food is no longer simply food.
Manufacturers use television to teach us that certain foods, like other commodities, can “add life,” make you an Olympic athlete or help your love life. By falsely attributing such capabilities to food in order to self high-‘ profit items, the crucial, age-old link between food and our true physical needs has been severed. Shall our food provide nutrition or shall it “add life?” Why should we make our own spaghetti sauce when we can buy the brand that will “take you back to old Italy?”
The modern American diet evidences a deep-seated frustration and no small degree of confusion about food and its proper place in our lives. The way in which people prepare and serve food says a lot about how they regard themselves and others. It tells us something about the spirit of a society and the quality of life, for food is life.
Golden arches, colonels, doughboys and a host of other gimmicks have partially succeeded in distracting us from what is happening to our food. But for those of us who can remember what a truly good meal tasted like, and can remember the warmth and intimacy which came with sitting down at the table to enjoy it with family or friends, a silent anger remains at the travesty. The, temple, we sense, has been profaned by the money changers.
Living and eating are forever a matter of politics. We can have any kind of food policy and any kind of agricultural program we want. We can decide to eat only hamburgers and sugar, throw our good food in the ocean, starve the poor and save one or two family farmers to use as museum exhibits.
Or we can decide that food, being a necessity, should also be a right, that we need family farmers to produce good food and we don’t need the middle men engaged in destroying and polluting it. We might even decide we don’t ed to have ourselves and our children indoctrinated by commercials which teach us “good” buying habits in the place of good eating habits.
Jim Hightower, author of Eat Your Heart Out, got right to the point when he said: “Food cannot be assembled like a telephone and there is no reason it should be. If anything
ought to be real in our lives, ought to be left to nature rather than being simulated by corporate technicians, it is food. Monopolisitic conglomerates cannot make our telephones work; why should they be arrogant enough to think that they can handle dinner? More to the point, why should we be dumb enough to let them?“
Reprinted from a pamphlet by Agricultural Marketing Project
- 1. Introduction
- 2. What Is The Basic Four Diet?
- 3. And Now For The Truth
- 4. Does The Four Food Plan Work?
- 5. The Life Science Basic Four Food Group Diet
- 6. Questions & Answers
- Article #1: Should We Drink Milk? By Dr. Alec Burton
- Article #2: Hygienic Considerations in the Selections of Foods By Ralph C. Cinque, D.C.
- Article #3: Eat Your Heart Out, Galloping Gourmet By Cary Fowler