Why We Must Occupy Our Food Supply

Over the last thirty years, we have witnessed a massive consolidation of our food system. Never have so few corporations been responsible for more of our food chain. Of the 40,000 food items in a typical U.S. grocery store, more than half are now brought to us by just 10 corporations. Today, three companies process more than 70 percent of all U.S. beef, Tyson, Cargill and JBS. More than 90 percent of soybean seeds and 80 percent of corn seeds used in the United States are sold by just one companyMonsanto. Four companies are responsible for up to 90 percent of the global trade in grain. And one in four food dollars is spent at Walmart.

What does this matter for those of us who eat? Corporate control of our food system has led to the loss of millions of family farmers, the destruction of soil fertility, the pollution of our water, and health epidemics including type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and even certain forms of cancer. More and more, the choices that determine the food on our shelves are made by corporations concerned less with protecting our health, our environment, or our jobs than with profit margins and executive bonuses.

This consolidation also fuels the influence of concentrated economic power in politics: Last year alone, the biggest food companies spent tens of millions lobbying on Capitol Hill with more than $37 million used in the fight against junk food marketing guidelines for kids.

On a global scale, the consolidation of our food system has meant devastation for farmers, forests and the climate. Take the controversial food additive palm oil. In the past decade, palm oil has become the most widely traded vegetable oil in the world and is now found in half of all packaged goods on U.S. grocery store shelves. But the large-scale production of palm oil — driven by agribusiness demand for the relatively cheap ingredient — has come at a cost: palm oil plantations in Indonesia and Malaysia are razing rainforests, releasing massive quantities of greenhouse gases and displacing Indigenous communities.

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Why is a former Monsanto lobbyist currently serving as the FDA’s food safety czar?

Why is a former Monsanto lobbyist currently serving as the FDA’s food safety czar waging war on small dairy farms that produce fresh milk?

While factory farm operators are getting away with serious food safety violations, raw milk dairy farmers and distributors across the country have been subjected to armed raids and hauled away in handcuffs.

The Food and Drug Administration is running sting operations followed by “guns-drawn raids usually reserved for terrorists and drug lords” as part of a crackdown on unpasteurized milk.1 Meanwhile, the FDA is letting the highly consolidated industrial meat and factory farm industry off the hook despite growing problems.

Not surprisingly, the person responsible for prioritizing armed raids on small dairies over holding agribusiness accountable is a former Monsanto attorney and chief super lobbyist. Monsanto’s Michael Taylor is the second highest-ranking official at the FDA, and as Food Safety Czar is responsible for implementing the day-to-day policies that govern the food safety laws for the U.S. 2

Whether or not you think unpasteurized milk is a good idea, it’s clear that the FDA under Michael Taylor has its priorities wrong. When industrial agribusiness sickens thousands of people, it’s absurd for the FDA to target Amish farmers producing fresh milk, much less to engage in “guns drawn” enforcement raids.

Incredibly, Michael Taylor and FDA inspectors have not arrested or fined the Iowa agribusinessman — Jack DeCoster — who was wholly responsible for the more than 500 million eggs that were recalled in 2010 salmonella-tainted egg recall. 3Though this industrial agribusinessman endangered the health of millions, Michael Taylor thinks Amish farmers producing fresh milk are more deserving targets of his FDA enforcement raids with guns drawn.

Tell President Obama to fire Monsanto’s Michael Taylor from his job as Food Czar at the FDA.

Thanks for standing up for small farmers and taking our government back from Monsanto.

1 "Food safety chief defends raw milk raids", San Francisco Chronicle, June 7, 2011
2 "Monsanto’s man Taylor returns to FDA in food-czar role", Grist, July 8, 2009.
3 ”DeCoster Gets Warning, Hillandale Sales OK’d”, Food Safety News, October 19, 2010.

Right now, the global economy is a Ponzi scheme.  We created a way of raising standards of living we can’t possibly pass on to our children.  As Tom Friedman reported in 2009, “We have been getting rich by depleting all our natural stocks — water, hydrocarbons, forests, rivers, fish and arable land — and not by generating renewable flows.”

It has to collapse, unless adults stand up now and say, “This is a Ponzi scheme. We have not generated real wealth, and we are destroying a livable climate.”  Real wealth is something you can pass on in a way that others can enjoy.”  I’ve also noted that the 1% can insulate themselves from the collapse far longer than everyone else, with their gated and moated communities, multiple homes in multiple climates, security guards, private jets and general insensitivity to the price of anything — and hence insensitivity to the value of everything.

by Cole Mellino

The new documentary film GrowthBusters had its world premiere in Washington, DC last night. And Climate Progress had a chance to catch up with Director Dave Garnder to chat about why he made the movie.

Gardner, like so many Americans, grew up hooked on growth. He once had a successful career as a corporate film producer, putting together promotional videos for large companies. But his newest film rails against many of those corporations that are trying to keep us addicted to growth.



Everyone working to change the food system should find a way to hook up with Occupy. The connection should be obvious. The Occupy movement at its core is about corporate power. Indeed, every one of the six Food Day principles connects to the corporate takeover of our food supply:

1. Reduce diet-related disease by promoting safe, healthy foods
2. Support sustainable farms and limit subsidies to big agribusiness
3. Expand access to food and alleviate hunger
4. Protect the environment and animals by reforming factory farms
5. Promote health by curbing junk-food marketing to kids
6. Support fair conditions for food and farm workers.

Read More Here: Appetite For Profit



I’m glad somebody wrote this article. When I was at Occupy Wall St, I didn’t see many folks talking about food AT ALL. My sign read “Corporate America: Get Your Grubby Hands Off My Food”, and I felt like a total loner.

People who are into food sovereignty and justice and animal rights… please go Occupy and talk about food. I feel like people are talking about money too much at these events. To me, food problems are even deeper than money problems. Because, you know, why do we even have money in the first place? So we can buy food and stay alive. Let’s scream about how this is the core flaw of our society, about how it’s what keeps people in prison their entire lives and prevents us from knowing true freedom. Let’s shout about food independence, about the right to a healthy diet, about stopping pesticide use and genetically modified crops, and ending factory farming.