The horrors of industrialised food

Fast Food Nation: The Dark Side of the All-American Meal - Eric Schlosser

I really appreciated the fact that a DVD was finally released that covers a number of issues in this book. For those who are interested, the DVD is called Food Inc and the main premise of this book, and the DVD, is to pierce the veil of the modern American food industry. Now, remember that I live in Australia so there are a number of concepts that I simply do not understand. For instance, here in Australia, it is cheaper to cook your own meals on a daily basis than to go to McDonalds every day for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Mind you, health wise, that is very bad (sort of like hitting your head with a hammer five times a day, three times each), but the economic consequences simply do not add up. I believe (and friends that I have spoken with agree) that you could eat at home for $2.00 a meal, as opposed to the $10.00 minimum you would pay eating out.

However, that may not be the case in the United States (and that is ignoring the question of time, because making your own meals does take time) where I have been told that fast food restaurants have happy hours the same way that pubs have happy hours (which makes you wonder about the governments attempts to reduce alcohol related violence). Apparently buying fresh food in the United States is not cheap, and that is despite the fact that food is manufactured in the United States on an industrial scale, and that the marketplace pretty much dictates the price that they purchase food.

It seems that the United States, the land of the free and home of the brave, is being turned into a modern day feudal system. People have jumped down my throat at that, but it is true in many cases. While you may be free in principle, in actuality you are not. Your employer, and your debts, pretty much keep you tied to the place in which you live. For instance, if you buy a house, you do not own the house, the house owns you. It is a lot more difficult for you to move to another city when you own a house because you have to sell the house, and then make arrangements for accommodation in a new local. Secondly (at least here in Australia) unless you have skills that are needed, it is very hard to find work in another city.

It is the farmers that strike me the most as being reduced to slavery, particularly the chicken farmers (and I suspect that this is the case across the board). To be able to survive as a chicken farmer you must have your farm set up in the specifications that the four major meat producers (which control over 80% of the market) dictate, and if you don't have those specifications they won't buy from you, and if they won't buy from you, good luck finding another customer. Therefore, you must borrow from the banks to be able to upgrade and then when the companies are dictating the price that they pay you pretty much find yourself in debt slavery.

Then there is the question of the workforce. For instance, it is cheaper (at least in America) to hire illegal immigrants as a work force, and in fact have your entire workforce made up of illegal immigrants. However, because it is illegal to hire illegal immigrants as workers, the companies routinely call in immigration, say once every two months, to report a small number of illegals to make it look like they are towing the line (and of course the illegal labour force is so large it is okay to get rid of some of them every so often). As for the citizens, it turns out that me, a humble call center operator, earns more than a manager at McDonalds in the United States. The minimum wage is certainly minuscule. Not only that but the job is actually very, very dangerous. Working the graveyard shift at McDonalds is almost as dangerous as working the graveyard shift at 7/11.

Food quality is also an issue that is raised and once again it is not something that we encounter here in Australia, with strict food hygene laws (though that may be part of the con, because the big boys still have a lot of influence here). Basically the government regulators are little more than toothless tigers, populated by executives that used to work in the food industry. Moreso, it is a criminal offence (under the food libel laws) to actually speak out against the food industry. Oprah did, and was taken to court, but Oprah has enough money to be able to fight and win (which she did) but most of us little people have little to no hope against the likes of Monsanto. Even if your lawyer works for you for free, the cost of litigation is huge. The idea of justice is not so much about the truth, but rather a threat to bankrupt you unless you tow the line.