Family Farm Defenders (Kansas Chapter)

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

The High Costs of "Cheap," Fast Food

The High Costs of "Cheap," Fast Food


The True Costs of Fast Food-- transfer wealth from the people to giant corporations, destroy public health, our environment and family farmer and community livelihoods, all while disparately impacting Indigenous, Black, Latino and some Asian groups much more harshly than whites and  has a global, not just a local  impact. 

Just thought of more impacts of fast food:  What about you? What impacts do you know that I have missed?

-Livelihoods of workers destroyed; 
--rob our treasury to pay their workers
--they create poverty and hunger with low wage jobs--and then Walmart--as the number 1 secondary recipients of food stamps, they rob our government again
--they again rob our treasury because the processed cheap food they sell is only possible through the high federal government subsidies big corporate ag farmers receive to grow corn, sorghum wheat et al--all the ingredients that get then heavily processed to become cheap, fast food and other unhealthy processed foods. 
--big ag with all these subsidies has put family farmers who grow healthy food out of business

--this food is killing us--diabetes, heart disease, cancers, kidney disease, stroke  what have I missed--gallbladder disease...,
--the low wages for food and farmworker create hunger and disease that disparately impact the poor

Environmental damage 
--part of the big industrialized corporate ag system which is contributing to the destruction of the environment on which we humans depend to live 
--global warming
--air and water pollution
--Dead zones in the oceans caused by the run off of synthetic fertilizer (NH4)  in our rivers and streams, killing all the fish, a critical component to human health, (Our big corporate, industrialized agriculture is completely run on synthetic fertilizers since WW2) 
--destruction of our rich fertile top soil in which to grow food
--and so much more--fill in the blank here...

--manufacturers of this fast and heavily process food target Black youth 50% more than white youth for exmaple and Black communities more than white
--they may also target the poor more
--they may also target some Latinos and other less powerful groups more

--not surprisingly, the diseases listed above disproportionately impact Black folks and the targeted groups. Black folks for example ate more veggies than whites back in the 60's but after the onslaught of fast food and the targeting of Black folks this changed.  (see Fast Food: Oppression through Malnutrition. California Law Review--brilliant piece, seminal article--written a while ago but still on point and the best I have ever read..) 

(I cannot help but conclude that this a legalized racket with a complicit government i(or worse yet, a government which works for theses corporations,) in which we, ordinary people,  are the victims, the shills... )

Not only do global food corporations like McDonald's, Walmart,  and other fast and unhealthy food purveyors exploit the American people by paying wages so low, full time workers are eligible for food stamps, Medicaid and other public benefits,  a report recently released revealed  (UC Berkley Labor  Report recently released.). but this unhealthy food they sell is costing the American public trillions in terms of damage to our health and to our environment on which we depend to live and creating and further aggravating racial and class injustice.

Furthermore, our federal government also subsidizes the production of the ingredients on fast food in the agricultural fields to the tune of billions of dollars. And there too, farm workers, not just food workers are exploited; people who have been displaced globally so desperate for income to stay alive. . 

The food is deeply unhealthy and causes diabetes, heart disease, certain cancers, obesity etc etc. Furthermore, all the meat that is used is cattle grazed around the world where forests are cut down contributing to global warming and other environmental disasters which eventually impact our health as well.

 Finally, we the American people subsidize McDonalds as well by subsidizing the cash crops of corn, sorghum and wheat which are processed into this unhealthy food to the tune of billions of dollars in subsidies.Furthermore, these crops are grown with heavy synthetic fertilizer, more damage to our health and our environment, as well as heavy pesticides and herbicides,  also very damaging to our health and environment.

It’s all about transferring money from the American people to big corporations who make big profits at our expense--directly through low wages and bad and unsafe working conditions.

Furthermore, while all of us are negatively impacted by our food and agriculture and economic policies which support this corporate grabbing of our health, wealth, and environment, these policies have disparate impacts on Indigenous, Black, Latino, and some Asian groups,  who are targeted by this system in terms of disproportionately being employed in these low wage, unsafe jobs (More fast food workers are killed than police officers.) Nationally, according to the Food Chain Worker Alliance, 3 out of 5  food worker jobs are people of color.  In addition, these global corporations target people of color to market this unhealthy food stuff; for example Black American youth are targeted 50% more often than White American youth by fast food. This clearly fuels the gross health disparities experienced by Indigenous, Black, Latino and some Asian communities in the US.

Fast and other unhealthy food purveyors are not just national businesses; they are global businesses and the impacts are felt globally in all aspects, impoverishing wages that bankrupt the people, declining public health, destruction of the environment on which we depend to live, subsidies for this cheap food production and exploitation of labor to global proportions.

This is a macabre and spiraling scenario which indicts our current food, agriculture and economic systems from the local to the national to the global levels.

This is a loose, loose, loose, loose   proposition.

We need to organize to build our power to stymie these food giants' power for our wealth, health and the health of our environment on which we depend to live,  in order to build truly healthy and wealthy, equitable, sustainable societies with livelihoods for family farmers and food and farm workers alike.
[1] Schlosser, Eric. Fast Food Nation: The Dark Side of the All-American Meal. Houghton Mifflin: 2001. p. 3.….v=onepage&q&f=false (7/4/11)
[2] Bernstein, Sharon. “Fast-food industry is quietly defeating Happy Meal bans.” Los Angeles Times. May 18, 2011,0,7236630.story (7/4/11)
[3] Hyman, Mark. “Why Quick, Cheap Food Is Actually More Expensive.” Huffington Post. August 14, 2010. (7/4/11)
[4] “Childhood Obesity.” Centers For Disease Control and Prevention. 2008. (7/4/11)
[ty.” American Journal of Public Health. March 2009, v99(3), p. 505-510. (7/4/11)
[5] Tester, June. “The Community Food Environment Around Low-Income Children.” Children’s Hospital and Research Center Oakland. (7/4/11)
[6] Severson, Kim. “Los Angeles Stages a Fast Food Intervention.” Los Angeles Times. August 13, 2008. (7/4/11)
[7] Block, Jason P., et al. “Fast Food, Race/Ethnicity, and Income: A Geographic Analysis.” American Journal of Preventive Medicine. 2004: v27(3), p. 0749-3797.…Fast_Food_RaceEthnicityand_Income.pdf (7/4/11)
[8] Mason, Caleb. “The Fast Food Jungle.” In These Times. April 30, 2001. (7/4/11)
[9] Mason, Caleb. “The Fast Food Jungle.” In These Times. April 30, 2001. (7/4/11)
[10] “Livestock’s Long Shadow: Environmental Issues and Options.” The United Nations: Food and Agriculture Organization. 2006. (7/4/11)
[11] “2008 Fast Food Industry Packing Report.” Dogwood Alliance. Retrieved 3/15/2013 from
[12] “Public Health Statement for Perfluoroalkyls.” Agency for Toxic Substances & Disease Registry. May 2009. (7/4/11)
[13] Mercola, Joseph. “What Is in Fast Food? A Newly Discovered Reason to Avoid Fast Food.” Huffington Post. December 29, 2010. (7/4/11)

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