By Jack Jodell, February 29, 2012
Americans can be maddening at times. My fellow citizens are often notoriously ill-informed when it comes to world events and even domestic politics and history. They are far more interested in fantasy and entertainment (including TV sitcoms, sports, and action movies) than they are in the world all around them. We seem to take everything and everybody for granted. Ignorant Americans still cling to the ridiculous and false notions that we are the richest and most free nation in the history of the world, and that we are simply the best in every category. Sorry to disappoint you, folks, but those days have long passed us by, and we have enabled the process through our own complacency.
Remember the good old family farm? It, too, has largely become a thing of the past. Today’s farmer, much as it pains him to admit it, is no longer the proud, independent businessman he once was. The majority of farmers now run corporate farms, and many have become de facto hired hands for major international food processing corporations like Smithfield, Cargill, or ADM. For example, many chicken farmers don’t even own their own chickens anymore! Tyson Foods, now the largest meat processor in the history of the world, owns its own chickens and pays farmers a set fee to raise them to adulthood, at which time they are gathered back up and processed. They also dictate the types of equipment farmes must use to grow their chicken herd, often requiring these farmers to go into debt to purchase the new equipment they say they must have. This is not free enterprise; it’s slavery, albeit with a kinder face than had been practiced before in this country, prior to the end of the Civil War. The very nature of producing chickens has been altered. Whereas they were once kept in a traditional chicken coop, free to run unhindered all over the barnyard and feed on bugs and gravel, they are now kept mainly in the dark, huddled very close to one another, and are force-fed vitamins, antibiotics, and corn grain to make them plumper. Many grow so fat they can only walk a few steps before they plop down and have to rest. They have been genetically modified to grow much bigger breasts due to Americans’ preference for white meat. It has caused them great discomfort as their bones, leg muscles, and interior organs have not been able to keep pace with their added breast weight. These genetic modifications, coupled with the force-fed corn diet, have now sped up the life cycle from a newly-hatched chick to a full-grown bird from 90 to a mere 49 days!
Corn has become so important in the mass production of livestock that it is now fed even to farm-grown fish like tilapia! Farmers are encouraged both by federal subsidy and food processor pressure to grow as much corn as they possibly can. Subsidies keep its price even below the cost to produce it, so corn, along with all of its derivatives, is found everywhere in the food chain. That’s why high fructose corn syrup has become so prevalent over the past 30+ years, and also why we Americans have steadily grown fatter and fatter, It’s been great for companies like Weight Watchers and Nutri-Systems, but it’s been hell for the rest of us, as the human body was not meant to metabolize high fructose corn syrup, and we end up storing it as fat! But, so long as corporate profit is achieved, the American diet can go to hell, as fat profits are far more important than slim Americans! Next time you’re at the grocery, read as many product labels as you can. You’ll be AMAZED by how much stuff is made from corn or corn derivatives!
On the subject of genetic mutation, the king of them all has been chemical giant Monsanto. When they introduced their herbicide Roundup, they gained mastery of all phases of food production, from seed through supermarket all across the globe. Roundup killed every weed and plant it encountered, and Monsanto was able to genetically modify seeds to become conveniently unaffected by the powerful pesticide. These seeds helped increase soybean crop yields tremendously, especially in third-world countries. There was one catch, though: Monsanto made each farmer purchasing its seeds to pledge not to reuse the seed for his next crop. Farmers who had typically used seeds again and again from one year to the next were now forbidden to do so, under threat of an expensive lawsuit by Monsanto. Each year, they had to buy new seeds from the chemical giant. And, of course, Monsanto hired squads of goons to randomly inspect many farms, and a significant number of farmers paid stiff penalties for reneging on the agreement. Many farmers in third-world countries (and even here) lost their farms as a result of these ruinous fines and lawsuits. By the way, we also have Monsanto to thank for DDT and Agent Orange, as well as Aspertame (NutraSweet). We have already seen the devastatingly toxic effects of the first two; the third remains in question and its effects may not be known for many years. Yet one more thing to castigate Monsanto for has been its development and use of recombinant bovine growth hormone (rBGH) for use in dairy cows. rBGH (sometimes called rbST) greatly increases milk output in the dairy cows which receive it, but this increased yield comes at quite a cost. Cows given this agent often develop an infection called mastitis in their udders. This condition leads to pus being produced, and an alarming amount of this pus finds its way into the milk! To counteract this, the cows are loaded with antibiotics which have created damgerous mew antibiotic-resistant bacteria. EWWWW! Unless you want to drink pus-filled milk, make sure the milk you buy is from cows NOT treated with this rBGH or rbST hormone! Brands that are safe include Land O’ Lakes Original, Kemps Select, and Polka Dot Dairy milks. ALL others are to be avoided unless they are clearly labeled hormone-free or are labeled organic! It may interest you to note that we are the ONLY country which permits the use of this hormone-infused milk; rBGH-treated milk was banned in Canada and all throughout Europe when it was revealed Monsanto tried to bribe several Canadian government members into initially endorsing its use! So much for the U.S. supposedly being the best in everything!
Corn-fed beef is another reason Americans have grown so obese. We eat far more meat than do the peoples of other nations, because corn-feeding has kept beef prices low. But the rise in fast-food popularity here since the 1960s has led to radical changes in how beef is produced. With McDonald’s being our biggest purchaser of ground beef and the hamburger having become such a mainstay in our diets, the need for strict conformity in beef processing and an ample supply of it have been driving forces to achieve maximum production. In nature, cows eat grass, not corn. But feeding them corn yields a much heavier and larger cow, so anybody can figure out that is why so much of our beef is now corn-fed. The corporate demand for ground beef also accounts for how you, as a consumer, can no longer purchase really tasty ground beef and must now settle instead for the much drier and stringier cuts of inferior, relatively tasteless 85-93% lean or Angus beef varieties. YUCK! Another nasty byproduct of this drive toward increased beef production has been a rise in dangerous incidences of food poisoning. For a very long time, cows were fed a steady diet of antibiotics. This, along with corn-feeding, caused a mutation in the types of e-Coli bacteria found in the cow’s intestines. Often penned in cages and standing in their own feces constantly, a certain amount of this fecal matter from corn-fed cows has invariably found its way into our foodstuffs, as revolting as that thought may be. Coupled with the deregulation-fever which has crept into the conservative Republican Party and infected our government, this has led to reduced regulations and fewer inspectors in the meatpacking industry, THAT is why your beef is less safe than it used to be! Another fine mess you’ve gotten us into, conservatives!
I won’t even get into how our year-round “fresh” tomatoes were picked unripe and green in other countries and were then “ripened” here in midwinter using ethylene gas, or how your tasteless fat-free ground beef could have been composed of beef taken and blended together with varieties shipped in from as many as 20 other countries. The important point to remember is that the clean and wholesome family farm image food producers love to use is a myth. The truth of the matter is that modern farms are more like factories, and, in the opinion of these giant food processors like Tyson Foods, Smithfield, ADM, and Cargill, the less you know about the origin of your food, the better. In their insane race for maximum profit at any cost, they are not always giving you what you bargained for and may actually be putting you at great risk!
So, my fellow Americans, it is time for you to get your heads OUT…of your stupid, igmorant, complacent asses, and away from a constant regimen of lying tslk radio and mindless TV like Glenn Beck, Rush Limbaugh, American Idol, Fox “News”, sporting events, and sitcoms. Begin taking a long-overdue look at the world around you, and start asking a few questions for a change. It could just do you some good to pay attention for once!