Corporate Greed. How if Affects Our Health
Although we do not always eat the most nutritious foods all the time, we do know that fruits and vegetables are certainly healthier than chips and cola. And yet, if you look at the way that the governments of Canada and the USA subsidize their farmers, there is very little government funding for fruits and vegetables, but an almost unlimited amount of funding for foods that contribute to poor health, diabetes and heart disease.
The most subsidized crop in North America is corn. When you think of how much actual corn we consume, from the can or on the cob, when in season, this sounds a bit strange. But corn is the main food for the cattle and pig industry, even though these animals were never meant to eat it. It is simply fed to them to fatten them up for the slaughter. Of course the cattle farmers, pig and chicken farmers also get huge subsidies which allow them to spend lots of money on antibiotics and growth hormones, all of which wind up in the food supply. The most common antibiotic used is ciprofloxin which is also prescribed for human use for urinary tract and upper respiratory bacterial infections. Because this antibiotic is in our food supply, mutating bacteria produce new strains that are totally resistant rendering ciprofloxiin almost totally useless.
The majority of the corn produced is made into corn syrup. This high glycemic sugary substance is the main ingredient in colas, chocolate bars, ketchup, sweet candy and thousands and thousands of snack products in which the other ingredients are simply artificial flavours and artificial colours, fats and trans-fatty acids. This totally useless snack food, which is marketed to our children from the moment they learn to watch television, is probably one of the main contributors to teenage Type II diabetes.
If you look at the latest Canada Food Guide published in 2011 the recommendations are as follows; Fruits and vegetables at the top of the list with 7 to 8 servings a day. However next down on the list Food Canada recommends 6 to 8 servings of grains, then 2 servings of milk or dairy and finally 2 to 3 servings of meat per day. The last three categories are designed to sell the goods produced by the farmers who receive the most money in subsidies, grain and corn farmers and cattle and dairy farmers.
In Canada, wheat is one of our biggest crops. Even though we know that white bread is simply full of genetically modified wheat, white flour and white sugar, the wheat farmers use all their political pull to force their elected representatives to keep handing over billions of dollars into a substance that is predominantly a bad food. Consuming large amounts of bread with its large amounts of refined sugar leads to diseases like diabetes which then lead to even more complicated health conditions, putting a huge burden on our health system. In Canada, the taxpayer has to come up with the extra money needed by the health care system because of the corporate greed of the farming industry and the politicians who will do anything required to get re-elected. In the United States, the poor health of its citizens fuels the huge for- profit medical system and thus another group of giant corporations make money from the diseases of its citizens.
The dairy farmers, cattle farmers, chicken and pig farmers have great influence over our food supply because they are no longer mom and pop farmers, but huge agricultural conglomerates that have bought up all the family farms and turned them into powerful corporations listed on the stock exchange. The one area of farming that is still independent is the fruit and vegetable farmer. However, collectively, they have no influence and hence the most important foods for human consumption receive the least amount of subsidies and attention from the government.
How does all this translate into the supermarket? Produce such as vegetables and fruit are the most expensive to buy and take up most of the grocery dollar. Imitation foods such as cola, candies, snacks etc are cheap, easy to eat and require no preparation. Bread is extremely cheap and filling. When you look at the shopping cart of a low-income person, you will see lots of cola, bread, hamburger and fillers such as rice and corn. Fruits and vegetables are conspicuously absent. This diet makes them very unhealthy and although they appear to be very large and fat, they are actually undernourished and sick and all of us must pay for their medical care while the huge agricultural corporations rake in the profits.
The next huge contributor to our unhealthy lifestyle is the fast food restaurant. Once again, corn, this time in the form of corn oil is one of the products used to make French fries and many deep fried foods laden with huge amounts of trans fats. The colas, fries, deep fried chicken and fried shrimps collectively are killing us. Corn oil is also used in the manufacture of salad dressings, mayonnaise and margarine. But once again, these large food chains are huge corporations with lots of funds to influence politicians. Greed wins and we lose. It is time to fight back.
Fast foods and snack foods must be given the same treatment as cigarettes. Advertising this junk should be banned. Huge warnings should be put on the labels of potato chips, candies and colas indicating that continued consumption will lead to a diseased state. Did you know that one 12 ounce can of cola has the equivalent of 9 teaspoonfuls of sugar? Every fast food package should have a huge insert indicating how many calories; grams of fat and trans fats are in the item. What chance does a person like myself have against the billions of dollars spent on advertising by Pepsi and Coca Cola alone? It is not the consumer’s fault that they do not eat healthy foods when you see a commercial telling you that Cheerios is good for your cholesterol.
Our elected officials could care less about our health. They allow tobacco and happily rake in the taxes. They support gambling and alcohol, which brings in billions in revenue, but have little money for treatment centers for alcoholics or compulsive gamblers. The only concern they have it to be re-elected. Why don’t we take a stand and only elect politicians willing to initiate changes for a healthy food supply. Find out where your elected representative stands and if they feel farmers should be subsidized then let it be the fruit and vegetable farmers instead of the producers of corn oil and corn syrup.