Where’s your money going?

This does NOT benefit consumers.

This does NOT benefit consumers.

I’d like to point out some scary trends in how our food budgets are being spent.  I encourage you to think about the question, “Who is profiting off me?”  There is no more direct measure of support than payment, and you might just be paying the people that are killing you.

First off, healthy food is more expensive, that’s a fact.  The New York Times found that whereas 1000 calories of healthy food will cost around $18, 1000 calories of junk food costs a dollar seventy five.  Frankly, these numbers seem like garbage, because there’s no way I spent $36 on the approximate 2000 calories I eat every day.  But I take their point.

Let’s examine the most flagrant violation of any sort of budgetary ethics system: fast food.  These restaurants take in hundreds of billions a year, which is more than we spend on “higher education, personal computers, computer software, and new cars.”

So let’s get this straight.  America as a country is spending more on fast food, which is destroying our health, than on higher education.  Something is not right here.

But there’s more to this than fast food.  Dr. Mercola likes to site the statistic that 90% of our food budgets goes towards processed foods.  These are things in a box, things in a fast food restaurant, any of the junk you can buy in a convenience store, etc.  If it doesn’t go bad in a couple weeks, it’s processed.

Am I worried about the fact that a bunch of jerks are profiting?  Not really.  Still, it’s astounding and concerning that such a few corporations control the vast majority of our diet, and almost all of the garbage processed foods that are killing us come from them.  Let’s look at the players here (this will mainly focus on American corporations).  These are all Fortune 500 companies.

First, there is PepsiCo, owner of Pepsi, 7- Up, Lipton, KFC, Pizza Hut, Taco Bell, Quaker Oats, Gatorade, Naked, and Tropicana.  Learn about PepsiCo’s pollution problems in India.  Check out your Tropicana orange juice, it’s not as healthy as you’ve been lead to believe.

Kraft owns A1, Boca, California Pizza Kitchen, Capri Sun, Chips Ahoy, Cool Whip, Jell-O, Easymac, Maxwell House, Nabisco, Oreo, Philadelphia Cream Cheese, Ritz, Triscuits, Wheat Thins, and countless others.  Kraft foods was owned by Altria, the owner of Marlboro, but recently was sold to Altria shareholders, who I’m sure are swell folks.

General Mills carries the brands Cheerios, Lucky Charms, Cinammon Toast Crunch, Trix, Betty Crocker, Bisquick, Hamburger Helper, Pillsbury, Progresso, and Yoplait and loves to advertise to children.

Another juggernaut here is ConAgra, who produces Chef Boyardee, TV dinners, Swiss Miss, Pam, Peter Pan, hot dogs, Jiffy Pop, and Healthy Choice.  ConAgra has been attacked for environmental, labor, health, and ethical violations; learn more here.

Other foods in the American grocery store come from Sara Lee (lots of processed meats), Dean Foods (soy milk, pickles, etc), Kellogg (cereal, Eggos, Carr’s, Nutrigrain, Morningstar), and Heinz (Bagel Bites, Classico, Kikkomans, Ore Ida’s, T.G.I. Friday’s).

A note: these corporations own many of the supposedly progressive brands like Naked, Boca, Odwalla, and Kashi as well as numerous organic labels, demonstrated here.

But it’s not so simple.  Let’s complete the unified theory of American food consumerism.  Almost all of the brands listed above use the products of food producers like Archer Daniels Midland, Tyson Foods, and Smithfield Foods. Tyson Foods and Smithfield Foods, meat producers, are responsible for the worst of factory farming, as well as numerous environmental tragedies, but that’s for another day.

We have Archer Daniels Midland to thank for the genetically modified corn and soy that underpin the processed foods listed above, as well as high fructose corn syrup and and a really disgusting environmental record.  Despite all this, this company receives WILD subsidies from the American tax payers.  From the Cato Institute:

“At least 43 percent of ADM’s annual profits are from products heavily subsidized or protected by the American government. Moreover, every $1 of profits earned by ADM’s corn sweetener operation costs consumers $10, and every $1 of profits earned by its ethanol operation costs taxpayers $30.”

My last article talked about how food corporations are screwing us, often with outright deceit or campaigns to sour the truth about dangerous products.  There are so many problems with this situation, from the death of small farms to the massive lobbying power to the lies about what is healthy.  The list goes on and on.

So these are the food corporations, and we are giving them our money.  Let’s not do anything too crazy, but shifting your budget a little bit towards real foods made by real people sounds reasonable, don’t you think?

Here’s the bottom line: read your labels, research your brands, and check out your local farmer’s market if possible. The corporations above spend billions of dollars a year advertising foods that are harmful to your health and destructive to the environment to you and your children, and you just can’t trust them.

Thanks for reading, I’m out.

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2 responses to “Where’s your money going?

  1. ISleepTooMuch

    How can anyone say no to Pizza Hut AND KFC AND Pepsi??? I am going to shamelessly suggest that you buy PepsiCo’s stock! 🙂

  2. ISleepTooMuch

    Gotta correct you there, man. KFC, Pizza Hut and Taco Bell are actually owned by Yum! Brands: http://www.yum.com/company/ourbrands.asp

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