A Look At Some Of The Food Industry 1 %

Let’s look at some of the giants in the food industry. Some names like Nestlé may be more familiar to you than, for example, Cargill, recently portrayed by Forbes Magazine as “the quiet giant that rules the food business“.

From the company’s website:

“Cargill is an international producer and marketer of food, agricultural, financial and industrial products and services. [...] In fiscal year 2011, Cargill had $119.5 billion in sales and other revenues.”

This makes Cargill, in terms of revenue, the largest privately held company in the world. As of 2011, if it were a public company, it would rank on the Forbes 500 behind AT&T and ahead of JP Morgan Chase.  By being a privately held company it has to disclose less information, and it doesn’t have to report to shareholders. Hopefully this gives you an impression how powerful this company is.

The Wikipedia page lists under “Criticism”: Human rights abuse (of children on cocoa plantations), several cases of food contamination (the last in August 2011, when “36 million pounds of ground turkey produced at Cargill’s Springdale, Arkansas plant were recalled due to salmonella fears”), and environmental issues (deforestation).

ConAgra Foods, with the slogan “Food you love”, is an American packaged foods company. According to their website they are “Giving you more reasons to feel good about the food you love. [...] Good for You. Good for the Community. Good for the Planet.”

In the Wikipedia entry about ConAgra we read about environmental issues, labor issues, health violations (among them a recall of 19 million pounds of ground beef in 2002), illegal activity (water was sprayed on stored grain to increase weight and value, and Federal inspectors bribed), demolition of a historic site in Downtown Omaha, Nebraska, and lobbying against an Oregon measure that would have required foods containing genetically modified organisms to be labeled.

All of these three companies are using genetically modified organisms, and don’t even get me started on companies like Monsanto.

(By the way, do you know what the Nestlé slogan is? It’s “Good Food, Good Life”. Nestlé describes itself as “the world’s leading Nutrition, Health and Wellness company”. I think the slogan is very clever; note that it doesn’t say it’s you who should get the good food and good life! :-) I have a feeling when you get Nestlé products it buys someone else some good food and good life.)

So what to make of all this? I just wanted to give you some examples and the idea that when protesting large banks it may be worthwhile to consider equally large, powerful, and profit-oriented food companies as well.

But isn’t it too much what we’re up against? In “Quantum of Solace”, James Bond wins (barely but surely) against the unscrupulous minds that set out to privatize water supplies. As Michael Clayton, George Clooney ensures (barely but surely) in the movie of the same name that a weed killer, known to be carcinogenic, is not being produced. What if we aren’t James Bond or Michael Clayton? Well here’s some good news: I think we actually are. Each and any of us has just as much power as the largest corporation, this is simply because they need customers. They can do many things, but the one thing they can’t do is exist without customers. No matter how large, any corporation will collapse without customers.

An end note – this just came in while I was writing this blog. All of the eggs used in McDonald’s restaurants in the US passed through Cargill’s plants. McDonald’s announced to end the relationship with Sparboe Farms, who are producing “2 million eggs a day, seven days a week”,  due to a leaked tape of animal mistreatment. From the article:

McDonald’s and Target’s moves also followed a warning letter to Sparboe Farms dated Wednesday from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration that said inspectors found “serious violations” at five Sparboe facilities of federal regulations meant to prevent salmonella. The warning said eggs from those facilities “have been prepared, packed, or held under insanitary conditions whereby they may have become contaminated with filth, or whereby they may have been rendered injurious to health.”

“[...] whereby they may have become contaminated with filth [...]” Gotta love the language :-)

Networking And Tofu

Thought I’d share a short summary that I had put together for someone I met at a networking event in San Francisco last week. At the occasion, a few notes on the event itself as well :-) It was truly inspiring to see what cool projects are in the works with some of the attendants (mostly women web entrepreneurs).

Check out, for example, Boutiika – “A New Way to Shop the City”:  The site lets you locate independently owned businesses, designers, locally manufactured products, etc. For fashion and for food the same thing applies – better buy local! :-)

Here is another interesting company: Ipiit.com lets you scan the barcode of a food item with your mobile to get instant information on its ingredients (and more). One example the lady from ipiit told me about (needless to say we had lots to talk about :-) ) was that what some products that have “fiber” listed on the package actually contain is cellulose! So you’re eating this food, and thinking you’re getting fiber, because on the package it says “high in fiber”, but what you’re actually eating is paper! So basically the team of ipiit is on a mission to enable customers to educate themselves about ingredients of processed foods. The Minimalist Cook’s approach is more radical, as it advises to stay away from processed foods altogether (because it’s, well, mostly bad news that come up for processed foods when you look into them). But of course this may not be for everyone, and for those sticking with processed foods for now the site offers a lot of valuable information.

It was very interesting to be able get feedback both on how people usually eat, and on the minimalist approach to it. It ranged from “Aha.. ” to “Oooh, I need that!!” to someone being a passionate cook, someone working for a start-up that has its own chef, someone exclusively eating out plus ordering from Safeway, and others.  By the way here are two great web pages the passionate cook (from a start-up called Pitchklub) referred me to: forageSF, and foodia.

Lastly, here is my email about tofu!

“It was great to meet you at Women 2.0. As promised, here is some information about tofu for you!
You probably know already that tofu is very healthy – it is a complete source of protein and has no cholesterol or saturated fat but plenty of vitamins and fiber and offers amazing health benefits.
I recommend you buy organic tofu (for example from Trader Joe’s), because soy beans are one of the four crops that are regularly genetically modified (along with corn, rapeseed, and sugar beets). If labeled “organic”, you can be sure your tofu is made from non-GMO soy beans.
I really love this marinade for tofu and use it regularly: http://www.fivestarnaturalmarinade.com/index.html
You can also make your own marinade from vinegar, sugar, pepper, and salt.
Marinated tofu tastes great on sandwiches, in salads, in stir-fry, or even as a snack.
Enjoy! :-)

The Latte Question

Even though probably somewhat off topic, one of the objectives of this blog is saving money after all, so here we go. Enjoy! :-)

‘Cutting Out The Latte’ has become synonymous with a certain type of saving advice. The phrase has made it into banking ads, and “The Latte Factor®” (yes, it’s trademarked) has sparked countless articles, ranging from calculations on which considerable amounts of money daily coffees can add up to, to articles advising to worry about bigger expenses rather than about small ones such as for drinks.

Obviously one can easily argue either way. The Latte Question somewhat culminates in this interesting article by Katherine Rosman for The Wall Street Journal, in which she reflects on the situation of her and her husband belonging to opposite sides of the Latte fraction. You can get a sense from her writing that there’s a lot more to this question than a dose of caffeine in a disposable cup.

But what exactly is it? The reasons are obviously deeply psychological, otherwise coffee shops would have a harder time selling products with several 100% price mark-ups than they have.

Research suggests that merely holding a cup with a warm beverage in your hands makes you already feel better. Then, there’s the looks of that shiny white disposable cup. I understood this one autumn afternoon on Fillmore St. in San Francisco. Was it just me radiating more happiness thanks to that warm drink in my hand? Or more of those research results (which suggest that someone holding a warm beverage is also feeling ‘warmer’ towards others, and is thus likely more easily approachable); the hint of luxury of an overpriced indulgence; the appeal of a ritual; the projected comfort of the beverage? Whatever it was, as a matter of fact I noticed I got checked out more when I continued on my way with that paper cup in hands! Add caffeine into the mix, which is addictive after all, and you likely get an idea what you’re up against trying to ‘cut out lattes’.

So now what to do with this information? Yes, you can have a coffee at home before you head out. No, it won’t be the same (but yes, it doesn’t mean you couldn’t create a different ritual at home that would make you feel as good.) Yes, there’s reusable cups on the market that look like paper cups. Yes, you could make your own drink and take it along. Yes, you could even get paper cups for this if you like. Yes, instead of thinking you’re sexy your neighbor may think you’re an alcoholic if you regularly emerge from your home with a paper cup in hand. Yes, you’d already feel happier if you’d just fill warm laundry water into a cup and hold it in your hand.

You get the idea – as long as Starbucks, Peet’s etc. offer a one-stop solution for all of this, and make you happier, sexier, more approachable, more attractive, give you a sense of warmth and comfort, plus satisfy your addiction, all for $ 4, this may very well be a steal! If you really want to cut out these expenses, figure out which aspects of the bundle are most important to you, and then consciously create replacements for them. There are equal or better replacements for every aspect – after all we don’t critically depend on Starbucks – but you may very well be surprised what it is.

My point – and I assume it’s also the author’s point in the aforementioned article – is that by simply ‘cutting out lattes’ there’s a chance you may save the money, but feel unhappier to an extent that’s not worth it. In economic terms, there’s a chance that the marginal utility of a gourmet cappuccino is indeed greater than the marginal cost. And there’s even a chance that it may be a LOT greater.

For anyone longing to understand this better I suggest a trip to Vienna, with its famous, centuries-old tradition of sophisticated coffee houses. Viennese culture (literature, music) is characterized by a specific sense of depression and humor at the same time. It sometimes seems as if Viennese live to have coffee and elaborate sweets in beautiful coffee houses, which provide a great sense of comfort – or at least the best illusion of it that’s possible.

Mr. Rosman, how about taking your wife on a field trip to Vienna in order to unearth the ultimate answer to The Latte Question? Who knows – she may even be willing to cut back on a few Cappuccinos for that! :-)

 

What To Eat Exactly… It Gets Slightly Complicated

We have seen that fresh, organic, local, unprocessed foods are always your best bet. We have also learned that eating mostly vegetables and fruits along with lean protein is best, which will take care of cutting back on gluten-containing grains in the process (or, possibly, eliminating gluten from your diet altogether).

We’re now entering the part where there are no such definitive answers anymore, and where personal preferences and different views come into play. I’ll try to give you a very basic breakdown, and if you’re not entirely sure anymore what to eat after reading it, simply remember to just stick with fresh, organic, local, unprocessed foods and with cutting down on grains in favor of vegetables/fruits and lean protein. You can’t go wrong with this.

Now let’s take a look at the following diets:

  • Paleo Diet
  • The Zone
  • Vegetarian / Vegan
  • Raw
  • Chinese Yin/Yang

- Here’s a nice summary of the Paleo Diet:

So basically, according to advocates of the Paleo Diet, the best way to eat for us is as our ancestors ate up until the Agricultural Revolution 10.000 years ago. (By the way, in addition this video emphasizes that we should in the first place make sure we eat like before the Industrial Revolution a mere hundred years ago, which is a “no-brainer” and what I’m trying to hammer home in this blog.)

The Paleo Diet consists mainly of meats, seafood, eggs, vegetables, fruits, berries, nuts, and seeds. It cuts out grains, dairy, legumes, starchy vegetables (like potatoes, yams, and sweet potatoes), refined sugars, honey, salt, and processed oils.

(To get a better idea you may also find this summary interesting of how to transfer a primal lifestyle to our millennium.)

- The Zone diet is about balancing carbs, protein, and fat in every meal, and eating zone-balanced snacks regularly to keep hormone and blood-sugar levels “within the zone” (that is, from spiking/dropping). See a summary of the Zone diet for example here.

- You may be starting to wonder already: How do vegetarian or vegan diets play with this? Can the Zone and the Paleo Diet be consolidated? How about vegetarian/vegan diets and the Zone/Paleo diets?

By eating meals that are balanced according to the Zone and that consist of foods recommended for a Paleo diet, is is not hard to consolidate these two. It is also easily possible to eat vegetarian/vegan on the Zone. Tofu is a complete source of protein and, according to the diet’s creator, a superfood. Interestingly, it seems even possible to consolidate a Paleo diet – which usually relies heavily on animal protein – with a vegetarian or vegan diet: Lindsay S. Nixon from Happy Herbivore points out that “most raw foodists and fruitarians are inadvertently following a ‘Paleo’ diet.” (Just to mention, tofu is technically off limits on the Paleo diet, because it is made from soy beans, which are legumes.)

It should, however, be noted that there’s a great deal of obscurity regarding the Paleo diet. We simply don’t know in each and every detail which exact foods were available 10.000 years ago. Some advocates of the Paleo diet also argue that bodies can adapt to foods that have been consumed in certain cultures for a long time. This would mean bread could be fine for Germans to consume and pasta for Italians; that Indians can have lentils, and that the bodies of East Asians can handle rice, while people of Native American heritage, for example, should stick to a stricter form of the Paleo diet. Also some legumes grow wild and our ancestors may have eaten them. And if I was a caveman you bet I’d eaten honey if I’d come across it! So let’s just say there’s some room for interpretation.

- The same applies to eating raw. There are raw vegans, while other raw foodists consume, for example, raw fish, dairy, or meat as well. Some eat exclusively raw, with “raw” being defined as “not heated over 40 °C (104 °F)”, while I also found examples of people defining “raw” for themselves as eating those foods raw that one can eat raw, and cook those that one can’t (for example rice, beans, lentils).

- I’d also like to mention “hot” and “cold” foods according to Chinese traditional medicine. Specific foods will heat or cool your body when they are being digested, independently of the temperature at which they are consumed. In addition, the way foods are prepared can affect their heating or cooling effect. For example you may have noticed a dish with a lot of chili will make you feel hot, or a hot cocoa milk with cinnamon will warm you, while foods like peppermint or leafy greens cool your body from within. There are several lists online, however they are not free from contradictions so I’m not linking to a specific list here. One point I’d like to make regarding this is that for example meat and eggs are “warm” foods, while, on a scale “cold – cool – neutral – warm – hot”, Tofu is unanimously listed as “cold”, and raw foods tend to be ‘cooler’ than cooked foods. So you may want to take care to eat enough “warm” foods when you’re following a vegetarian or vegan and/or raw diet. For example root vegetables and onions are “warm”, and chili, ginger and garlic are “hot”.

Now what to do with this information? You get the idea – advocates of the Paleo diet think grains are poison, vegans think animal products are poison, raw foodists think cooked foods are poison. Ultimately these ways of eating are lifestyles. For example someone propagating a caveman’s diet and lifestyle may think skeptically of civilization, while for example vegetarians/vegans may instead believe it came with a learning process that can be seen as an achievement, and that we’ve learned or are learning to strive for peace rather than being warriors and should choose our diet accordingly.

But you don’t have to choose if you don’t like to. Simply focus on (mostly) not eating any conventional or processed foods and lots of fruits and vegetables. If you want to take things to the next level you’ll find out what works best for you with some curiosity and experimentation. For example for these boxers, what turned out to work best were vegetarian/vegan diets. David Wolfe, a raw vegan foodist, says in this video that his ideal diet is “a liquid diet with an occasional salad of wild herbs”… As astonishing as this sounds: Take a look how incredibly radiant he looks. Who knows, maybe you’ll grow to be the next person to promote such a diet? :-)

Need Vs. Want – Do We Need Genetically Modified Food?

I often hear people say this: “We need genetically engineered food to feed the earth’s ever-growing population.”

Right now many people are starving, however this is not due to lack of food but instead to poor distribution. As of today, there’s enough food available so that all people on earth could be fed through food redistribution.

How about the future?

In order to produce, for example, beef, cows are fed nine times the calories than what their beef has in the end. So, in future, if the world’s population would eat a plant-based diet instead of meat, nine times the number of people who currently eat meat could be fed.

“But I don’t want that.”

People do confuse global needs with personal preferences.

Another example: In residential neighborhoods I see mostly carefully tended-to lawns or beautiful flowers in the gardens. I’m writing this blog from California, which is blessed with sunshine, water, and fertile soils. In my whole town I can only think of one real vegetable garden that I’ve seen.

If food would become scarcer, it would become more expensive. Let’s for example imagine the price of a carrot to rise until it eventually hits $ 50. I think we would observe a shift from flowers and lawns to carrots in gardens. How much more food could be produced that way? Chances are whole families would be able to live off their gardens, if they wanted to.

It’s important to understand that genetically engineered food is a choice. If food should become scarce at some point (right now it isn’t, it is just poorly distributed), people have a choice of shifting their habits, such as changing their diet, growing their own food, wasting less food, etc.

The demand that we see for genetically engineered food is not a need but a want, a personal preference of cheaper food with unknown consequences over natural food of those who buy it, be it consciously or unconsciously. We do not need genetically engineered food.

 

Making Sure That Nobody Messes With Your Food

This blog is picking up on where we had left off regarding unprocessed foods. Consider a drug dealer. As long as there’s a demand for drugs, and as long as huge profits can be made from meeting that demand, and as long as those profits are considered hugely desirable, someone will be willing to provide a supply, no matter how illegal, dangerous etc. it is.

Now imagine you could get customers addicted to a product, thus securing a constant demand and revenue, but without the pesky dangers and risks that come with illegal operations; instead everything would be completely legal. Do you think someone would try to go for this? You bet.

Fast food chains and the food industry are making tremendous efforts towards getting people to ‘crave’ their foods and making them physically and/or psychologically addicted to their products. You absolutely can’t trust profit-oriented corporations to have good intentions for your health and well-being. Instead you can trust that if someone can get away with offering you crap that looks like food, it’ll happen. By buying unprocessed foods, you simply opt out of this. You ensure you’re not being exposed to any manipulative efforts because you’re simply not giving anybody a chance to mess with your food.

If you think there’s no alternative to fast food, I hope to show you in this blog that you actually have options that are different from walking into a fast food joint and trying to find something ‘healthy’ on the menu. By doing this you’re making it hard on yourself, because you’re trying to find something that most corporations have no interest in offering.

What if it all still seems too much effort? In this blog I’m trying to break down the basics in order to minimize the work for you as much as possible. If you have questions or need help please feel free to contact me. Also if it still seems too hard or too much work, maybe implement just a few things. Everything you can do will help you, and ultimately putting in the work will be hugely rewarded. Jay-Z rhymed about his success:

“I’m a hustler, homie; you a customer, cronie”

That’s what corporations want people to be – customers: craving their products, hoping they are not too harmful (because of limited means of knowing), and thinking they have no alternatives.

Instead consider the immense power you have of making a choice. No business can fire their customers. They can mistreat or fire workers, lobby for favorable laws and permissions, not pay taxes, etc, but they can’t do without customers. So if you’re not treated well, and being made sick counts as such, it’s as easy as walking out and not walking in again.

Even Less Shopping!

So we have learned in the last blog that vegetables and fruits should make up a good part of your diet. Here’s another great way to save shopping time and efforts and to get vegetables and fruits to your kitchen regularly and as fresh as possible: Delivery of organic produce to your doorsteps is offered in many cities.

There are at least two such services in the Bay Area. I signed up with Farm Fresh To You about two years ago, which is the only local service that also has a farm. (The other services purchase and repackage the produce that they deliver.) I was often surprised how good the Farm Fresh produce tasted. I remember, for example, a baby cauliflower – while pondering which quick sauce to make to go with it, I tried a little bit of that steamed baby cauliflower, and it turned out to have such an astonishingly rich, buttery flavor that there wasn’t any sauce necessary at all!

Regularly receiving a mixed box of vegetables and fruits is also a great way to practice cooking with what you happen to have, and it ensures you’re mixing up your menu.

Here’s the link to Farm Fresh To You!

Your Basic Gluten Knowlegde

Here are the very basics about gluten.

  • There are three plants that contain gluten: Wheat, rye, and barley.
  • Oats do not naturally contain gluten. They often contain, however, a small amount of gluten from wheat or rye, because usually these grains are grown next to each other, or on the same land in consecutive years, shipped on the same trucks, processed in the same facilities, etc. If you see “gluten-free oats” in the store, this means that precautions have been taken to avoid cross-contamination.
  • Oats do contain a protein that is similar to gluten.
  • Any other grains (rice, quinoa, etc) or other unprocessed foods do not contain gluten.
  • Bread and pastries, beer, soy sauce, and other foods contain gluten if they are made with wheat, rye, or barley.

Now let’s break down what to do with this information. It seems obvious that anyone who has a gluten intolerance should eat gluten-free. It is, however, not so clear who this is:

  1. People who have been diagnosed with celiac disease (gluten intolerance) – this is obvious.
  2. People who have celiac disease and have not been diagnosed. Gluten intolerance is severely underdiagnosed, so many people who have it actually don’t know this.*
  3. According to Robb Wolf, a proponent of the Paleo Diet (we’ll learn about this diet shortly), gluten is bad for everyone.

Before I give you – in one minute – a link to a blog where you can read about why Robb Wolf thinks gluten is bad for everyone, please consider:

  • The headline of that article is very sensational, and the blog contains a lot of mixed information and is at times confusing.
  • The author is at least once outright wrong when he says that “gluten [is] a protein found in wheat, rye, barley, and millet.” (Millet does not contain gluten.)
  • You’ll notice that the author advises against consuming any grains. The connection to our topic here – gluten – is where he says that “it’s my opinion (and that of many other researchers) that wheat, rye, and barley, which are the gluten-containing grains, are likely the worst of the bunch with regard to health.”

Ok so now, if you like, read Rob Wolff’s blog (it’s a guest blog on Tim Ferriss’ blog) here.

Now what to ultimately do with this information? If you like you can try eating gluten-free for some time and see how you feel. I did this for some time, and I did feel great. I would, however, not suggest a completely gluten-free diet for everyone, always. Gluten-free products have to pass strict standards because they need to be safe for people with celiac disease, and they are therefore expensive. For example I tried a bread made of rice flour which cost around $ 5 and didn’t taste very good. Instead you could just eat less foods that contain gluten. Generally the foods you should eat most of are vegetables and fruits, along with lean protein. This is true regardless of which diet you are following, be it a Paleo diet, the Zone, a low-carb diet, etc. So for us what’s important here is that you can’t go wrong with eating mostly vegetables and fruits, along with lean protein. If you do this you’ll be cutting back already on wheat, pancakes, pasta, bread, etc, be it to eat less gluten, less complex carbs, less calories, less grains, or whatever the reason.

Ok thanks for sticking with me until here. Of course you can also get tested the next time you go to the doctor to see if you have a gluten intolerance. I didn’t suggest this earlier because chances are you’re getting hungry sometime today and can’t run to the doctor before deciding what to eat. So just go with fruits and vegetables, lean protein, nuts and seeds etc. You can’t go wrong with this, and you can get tested for gluten intolerance eventually, if you like, at a time when it fits your schedule.

Now possibly you may have been wondering how eating less gluten or possibly not eating any grains at all goes together with that little food pyramid that you have seen on cereal boxes since your childhood and that promotes cereal/grains as the basis of a recommended diet? Let’s look in the next blog at what’s up with that.

 

*Not entirely sure about numbers, but to give you an impression: About 0.5 to 1 % of Americans are estimated to have gluten intolerance, and an estimated 90% of those who have it don’t know about it.

 

Are You A Vegetarian?

I usually choose a vegetarian or vegan dish when I eat out, and often I get asked at these occasions whether I’m a vegetarian. Even though the vast majority of foods I eat is vegan or vegetarian, I do eat meat occasionally and so don’t consider myself a vegetarian. There are, however, meats (and eggs) that I absolutely don’t eat, and those are conventional meats and eggs from supermarkets, fast food joints, or restaurants. The animals are often held crammed together and unable to venture outdoors, etc, and are given medications to prevent illnesses caused by these conditions. I don’t want to eat the antibiotics, artificial growth hormones etc. that are given to them.

There are some additional problems with conventional meat production. Meats are mixed together, so if one animal is sick, a vast amount of meat gets contaminated. In the movie “Food, Inc” a mother is interviewed whose kid has died of contaminated meat that was served at a fast food joint. The scary thing is how the food industry went after her once she started working to ensure that such a thing doesn’t happen again. She is barely able to say anything in the movie.

It should, however, not come as a surprise that someone who treats animals improperly does not stop at humans either. The largest slaughterhouse in the world, located somewhere in the Midwest, actively recruits workers in Mexico with advertisements. The local U.S. police deports workers regularly, however – be it an unspoken agreement or outright corruption – not in numbers that would bring the slaughterhouse to a standstill.

These are some of the reasons why I only eat meat where I explicitly know where it comes from, and only the best I can get (free-range, organic, grass-fed, antibiotics- and hormone-free).

 

 

Subsidized Corn

Corn is subsidized by the U.S. government. What does this mean? It means that whoever decides to grow corn in the U.S. gets paid government (= taxpayer’s) money just for doing so. In the movie “King Corn” (available on Netflix) you can follow the experiment of two guys who grow an acre of corn in order to understand the food chain better. They walk into the local agricultural government office somewhere in the Midwest and communicate their intent, and walk out with about $ 20. One of them says: “We should grow 10.000 acres!”

And that’s exactly what happens. Huge amounts of corn are grown in the ‘corn belt’ as a result of this policy; there’s a huge surplus of corn, and it goes into almost every food you can imagine:

- Meat: Cows are fed with corn even though their bodies can’t handle it. They are just slaughtered a few months before they would naturally die of the inappropriate diet

- High Fructose Corn Syrup: Corn is made into High Fructose Corn Syrup in a complex chemical process, and then goes into many other foods

- And many more – For more information you can for example read the book “The Omnivore’s Dilemma” or watch the movies “Food, Inc” and “King Corn”.

Important for us here is that the initial subsidy is passed on through the food chain. So because of the subsidy it becomes cheaper to feed cows corn than grass. It becomes cheaper to use high fructose corn syrup than sugar in foods. And, ultimately, fast food meals are cheaper than “real” meals, because they contain corn in countless ways. What this means is that fast food partly becomes cheaper than other food because it has been subsidized by taxpayer’s money.

At this point you may be wondering why fast food is subsidized instead of, let’s say, organic fresh food? Great question. I can only say, whatever the reasons, I wish this was different. It would certainly help the family that I mentioned in the last blog (and many others). This blog’s goal is on giving practical advice, so we just acknowledge the situation here and focus on dealing accordingly. Fast food is processed food, so it is already eliminated from our meals by our rule of sticking to unprocessed foods. But you can see how this is made much more difficult for people by government policies and legislation.