Where your junk food is grown
Given our recent discussion of GM food, here’s another spanner in the works: Let’s say we use GM to produce abundant, disease-resistant crops. OK, that sounds like a good start. But where might that GM material go? Healthier spinach? Shiny purple eggplants? Or stuff that we don’t actually need?
Author Margaret Webb explores one of the real reasons for good food shortages: Overproduction of crap.
From the Toronto Star:
Follow the flow of food. That’s what any farmer will tell you. Because apples don’t grow in supermarkets.
So to get to the root of the exploding obesity epidemic, I went in search of a junk food farm.
Such farms are not so easy to spot. No fields of Dorito bags waving in the breeze, no orchards blooming with soda pop, no soil bursting with 99-cent burgers.
What you do see are vast operations growing the raw materials for junk food: soybeans and corn.
The two crops go into the production of many things: pharmaceuticals, industrial products, animal feed – and inexpensive calories.
Tonnes of soybeans and corn are turned into “edible food-like substances,” as food system critic Michael Pollan calls them, used in virtually all processed foods, beverages and junk food.
Last year, Ontario farmers planted 2.4 million acres of soybeans and just over 2 million acres of corn. That’s nearly half of all cropland in the province, a near-colonization of Ontario farms by the soy and corn industry.
It has provided an abundance of cheap calories for a food system that operates by Doritos economics. A bushel of corn produces some 440 two-ounce bags of 99-cent chips. Farmer grosses $3.70 for the bushel of corn, Doritos more than $440.