Chew on This: 20 Yucky Food Facts Unique to the United States
So you think you know what you're eating? Allow us to burst your organic, non-GMO bubble. The U.S. food industry is a twisted tale of greed, pollution, and enough pesticides to make a cockroach keel over. We've cooked up 20 facts about the food industry that'll make you question every delicious bite you've taken. Ready to swallow some hard truths? Dig in, if you dare.
1. Four Companies Have a Beef Monopoly in the U.S.
Huzzah for capitalism! Four companies have cornered the beef market, making it easier for them to set prices and harder for small farmers to compete. These greedy stuards of our beef are: Cargill, Tyson Foods, JBS, and National Beef Packing Co.
2. Just Three Companies Rule the Roost in Poultry
Three companies have all the cluckin' power. They control the price, the supply, and probably the secret recipe to your grandma's chicken soup. Due to their power, they also often get their way with regulation. Say hi to: Tyson Foods (again), JBS (again), and Perdue Farms.
3. Two Dairy Giants Have the U.S. Market by the Udders
Two companies have milked the dairy market. They've got a stranglehold on everything from your morning cereal's companion to that late-night cheese binge. Who are these creamy co's? Dairy Farmers of America and Fonterra. Another feather in the cap for capitalism.
4. Ten Food Titans Hog Most of the Market
Ten companies control most of what you eat IN GENERAL. So, when you see a new "mom and pop" brand on the shelf, it probably isn't, it's just marketing. The exact percentages of total control depends on the food type. For example, PepsiCo controls 88% of the dip market (the stuff you put your chip into) and 93% of sodas we drink come from just 3 companies.
5. Traces of 27 Different Pesticides Can Be Found In Most American Bodies
Forget vitamins, Americans are getting a hearty dose of pesticides. This is probably due to the fact that 1.1 billion pounds of pesticides are used in agriculture per year... in the USA alone.
6. Roundup's Main Ingredient is a Cancer Cocktail
Glyphosate, the star ingredient in Roundup, is a known carcinogen. But hey, at least your lawn looks good, right? We should mention that Glyphosate is unequivocally band in most countries, including Germany which manufactures it. Here's another slick article on the dangers of Roundup. (Fun fact: this product was originally made as an herbicide during the Vietnam conflict. The U.S. sprayed the jungles with it to aid their ground troops. They called it Agent Orange at the time.)
7. Livestock Get More Antibiotics Than Your Sick Aunt Karen
Antibiotics are handed out to livestock like candy on Halloween. The result? Antibiotic-resistant bacteria that could make future diseases harder to treat.
8. A Few Companies Corn-er the Market on Corn and Soy
A handful of companies have turned corn and soy into their personal cash cows. Monocultures are the name of the game, and biodiversity is the loser. This is inarguably bad for the planet.
9. Monocultures Are Pesticide Parties Waiting to Happen
Monocultures are like all-you-can-eat buffets for pests, requiring even more pesticides. It's a vicious, toxic cycle.
10. Monocultures Are Killing the Soil and Wildlife
Soil erosion and loss of biodiversity are the hidden costs of these vast monocultures. But who needs diverse ecosystems when you can have more corn?
11. The Food Industry is a Food Waste Factory
The industry throws out 40% of all food produced. It's like they're competing in some twisted food waste Olympics. Thankfully this has given rise to new cunning co's like Divert which try to turn food waste into energy. FTW!
12. Fast Food is Fast to the Trash
Over-packaging and short shelf lives mean fast food isn't just fast to your table; it's fast to the landfill too.
13. Your Tap Water is a Food Industry Byproduct
Between pesticides, fertilizers, and animal waste, the food industry is turning our waterways into their personal sewer system. While your local water works cleans this stuff, they can't pull out all the microplastics, heavy metals and other meyham... so they just say "it's close enough". Tip: Get yourself a water filter.
14. Factory Farms Turn Rivers into Sewers
Manure from factory farms doesn't just stink; it's a water pollution nightmare. Your local river, now featuring Eau de Cow Dung. (BTW, did you see that fact about tap water?)
15. Pesticides and Fertilizers Are Air and Water's Worst Nightmare
These chemicals don't just stay on the fields; they take a joyride on the wind and rain, causing pollution far and wide.
16. America is the World Capital of Corn Syrup
High-fructose corn syrup is America's sweetheart, linked to obesity and diabetes. The shift from traditional sugar to this sweet Frankenstein's monster was a calculated choice based on cost and government subsidies to the corn industry.
17. The U.S. is the Processed Meat Kingpin
We're the world leaders in producing processed meats, which are as good for your health as they are for your taste buds. Sarcasm intended. For you literal minded: processed meats are bad for bodies... and this author doesn't care for the taste. That clear enough?
18. Billions Spent on Marketing Junk to Kids
Companies spend billions to make sure your kids pester you for sugary cereals and fast food. Get them while their young, and they'll be hooked! That's the logic anyway. It's probably why any millennial and older have "fond memories" of sweet cereal commercials in between Saturday morning cartoons.
19. The U.S. is the Fattest Developed Country
With the highest obesity rates, America is literally the biggest loser. And the food industry is cashing in on every extra pound. Actually, the healthcare industry is also cashing in on our turmoil now that I think about it.
20. The Food Industry is Making Us Sick
From obesity to diabetes, the food industry's products are a recipe for chronic illness. But don't worry (if you're a stockholder), they're also highly-invested in pharmaceuticals! (psst: see our post on US healthcare, weeee!)