Oh, gag me with a bowl of propaganda. The National Archives is hosting an historical exhibit on government say in what we eat and grow and how to cook it: “What’s Cooking, Uncle Sam: The Government’s Effect on the American Diet.” From the opening lines of the website, you know our control freak “Uncle” has launched another major psyops campaign to convince us that Government Knows Best when it comes to food:
“We demand that our Government ensure that it is safe, cheap, and abundant. In response, Government has been a factor in the production, regulation, research, innovation, and economics of our food supply.”
Though painting Uncle Sam as Mrs. Doubtfire, when it comes to the results of government intrusion into the food supply, he’s more like Joseph Mengele. Over the last hundred years, we’ve seen climbing rates of cancer, diabetes, obesity, heart disease and neurological disorders, thanks to Uncle Sam’s “regulation” of food additives and environmental pollutants. We’ve also seen the number of farms decline by 98%.
Kerry Trueman of Eating Liberally is only too happy to regurgitate the promotion of government control of food, pointing out when Uncle Sam actually provides a social safety net, to wit: the SNAP program, otherwise known as food stamps.
She fails to mention that 184 House Democrats (along with 217 Republicans) just voted to make deep cuts in US food assistance in the 2012 Agricultural Appropriations bill (HR 2112), which I summarized here, based on the analysis of several different experts, and my own stumbling thru the massive bill.
One piece I relied on, by Congressmen Sam Farr and Norman Dicks, points out that though the Women, Infants and Children program got a slight boost, the $6 billion budget nowhere near meets the needs of the 50 million+ US citizens who live in poverty, most of them women and children. That’s less than $150 per year for each hungry person.
But, hey, how about those foreign resource wars that Uncle Sam funds to the tune of $1.2 trillion?
Two years ago, the estimate of those in poverty reached 47 million. Since then, unemployment has boomed while the number of jobs has declined. You do the math; I’m sure the number of those truly living in poverty is much higher than 50 million, though recent government figures assert that the number in poverty hovers at 40 million.
Trueman hails a feature of SNAP that allows recipients to buy seeds and vegetable plants. Yes, that is a good feature. Too bad that HR 2112 made the following cuts, note Farr and Dicks:
“Funding for the Commodity Supplemental Food Program, which serves predominantly low-income seniors, is $138.5 million. This is $38 million (22%) below the 2012 request and $37 million (21%) below 2011.
“Funding for the Emergency Food Assistance Program (TEFAP), which works with states to assist food banks, is $38 million. This is $12 million (24%) below the 2012 request, and about $11 million (23%) below 2011. The bill also cuts $51 million (20%) from the funding that TEFAP receives annually from the SNAP program.
“The bill reduces the WIC Farmers Market Nutrition Program to $15 million, which is $5 million (25%) below the $20 million level that has been provided for many years. The program gives vouchers to WIC participants for the purchase of fresh fruits and vegetables at state-approved farmers’ markets.”
Trueman does acknowledge that Big Ag’s lobby has twisted Uncle Sam’s arm to the detriment of the public, but fails to acknowledge that the Obama Administration is well known for appointing those lobbyists to key positions.
* He’s got Monsanto heading his newly created Food Safety czar in the person of Michael Taylor, whom Jeffrey Smith describes as the “person who may be responsible for more food-related illness and death than anyone in history.”
* Obama appointed biotech poster boy Tom Vilsack as head of the USDA, who’s been sued twice so far for violating law by approving genetically modified crops without proper environmental assessments.
* He made Monsanto lobbyist and pesticide-pusher Islam Siddiqui the US Ag Trade Representative.
* Obama also put Elena Kagan on the US Supreme Court. In the No-GMO world, she is most notorious for her government-funded support of Monsanto when she served as Solicitor General.
Speaking of the “economics of our food supply,” which the exhibit touts, the new ag appropriations bill also made deep cuts to local and regional food system development programs. Agribusiness giants dominate the market today. This is Uncle Sam setting US priorities. The Senate is now reviewing HR 2112.
Without expressing any comprehension of the impact of food control legislation, Trueman blows the horn of the Food Safety Modernization Act:
“Sure, Uncle Sam’s always been kind of a drag, with his stern face and wagging finger. But to ‘nanny-state’ haters, he’s a Beltway busybody in drag, democracy’s Mrs. Doubtfire, a Maryland Mary Poppins. If you believe that government is always the problem, never the solution, then you have no use for, say, more stringent food safety regulations…”
Really? Mrs. Doubtfire? The FSMA promises to enforce irradiated foods, promote genetic engineering, and run out of business small and midsize operators on which we’ve thrived for hundreds of years. Burdensome hyper-regulation will force them to upgrade their facilities to the tune of tens of thousands of dollars or lose their license. A veritable Big Food dream, and an Oliver Twist nightmare.
“Safety” has nothing to do with the FSMA – this is about forcing us to eat factory-produced foods adulterated with GMOs, chemicals, drugs and nanomaterials, where most of the nutrition has been removed. It’s really a nice racket – for the medical profession, pharmaceutical industry, and chemical manufacturers, as well as Big Ag.
In fact, this kind of regulated contamination of US food (and the environment) prompted the making of The Idiot Cycle, an excellent film showing how Uncle Sam’s “nanny-statism” is making us all sick so that chemical companies and Big Pharma (sometimes one and the same) can earn obscene profits. (My review here.)
Like all the “modernization” acts, the Food Safety Modernization Act is but another in a long line designed to enhance profits of Big Business at the expense and health of the rest of us, including the environment.
Though this probably deserves its own essay, let’s take a brief look at some of those “modernization” acts and their impact on us:
The Financial Services Modernization Act of 1999 deregulated the financial services industry, leading to the collapse of global finance, from which we have still not recovered (except for those banksters and their bailouts, which both Bush and Obama signed despite 95% of the public opposing them.)
Commodity Futures Modernization Act of 2000 also deregulated Wall Street, allowing for credit default swaps, unlimited trading in food commodities futures, and the infamous “Enron loophole,” which benefited (among others) the wife of the congressman who authored it: Phil Gramm.
Farr and Dicks also point out that the 2012 ag appropriations bill defunds the Dodd-Frank financial reform legislation that seeks to rein in food commodities trading. This would bring food prices down, but the House defunded it in HR 2112.
Also see, e.g.:
F. William Engdahl’s Getting Used to Life Without Food;
Ellen Brown’s How Banks and Investors Are Starving the Third World; and
Frederick Kaufman’s The Food Bubble: How Wall Street starved millions and got away with it.
Help America Vote Act of 2002 (a modernization act) replaced hand-count and lever technologies with software, which can be hacked without detection. By 2004, 95% of the U.S. said goodbye to verifiable election results, no matter what election officials say. (See my annotation of 21 scientific reports condemning computerized voting systems.)
Voter Registration Modernization Act of 2009 didn’t pass, but don’t ignore it. This bill seeks to set up online voting, another ludicrous assault on democracy. There is no way to ensure these votes are valid.
Food Safety Modernization Act of 2011 Already discussed here, but in more detail in several pieces listed here. Steve Green’s famous piece, S.510 Is Hissing in the Grass, woke up fans of food freedom and food sovereignty with Canada Health whistleblower Shiv Chopra’s quote:
“If accepted [S 510] would preclude the public’s right to grow, own, trade, transport, share, feed and eat each and every food that nature makes. It will become the most offensive authority against the cultivation, trade and consumption of food and agricultural products of one’s choice. It will be unconstitutional and contrary to natural law or, if you like, the will of God.”
Oh, we’re seeing that. Not only has the FDA increased its raids on natural food producers and sellers, but (as many readers know), it also recently claimed authority under the FSMA to seize food without credible evidence it’s been contaminated.
When you think about what’s in 90% of US food, the risk of becoming ill from natural foods and supplements is far, far below what’s happening to the majority of Americans, with climbing rates of diabetes, obesity, heart disease and neurological disorders. Yet natural food producers are under attack by Uncle Sam given his commitment to global trade rules.
This isn’t Mrs. Doubtfire or Mary Poppins. This is Adolph Hitler, Benito Mussolini and Josef Stalin all rolled up into one. This isn’t a nanny state; this is food fascism – criminalizing our right to eat the foods of our choice, grown and prepared as we like, while destroying the ability of family and mid-size farms to earn a living.
I’m sure the “What’s Cooking, Uncle Sam” exhibit will provide a fascinating study – not into enhanced food safety or increased health invoked by federal policy, because that clearly has not happened – but in the power of propaganda.
Bob Koehler says these types of efforts “abandon us in a state of feel-good pseudo-security.” Despite that, and you can blame this on morbid curiosity, I hope to see it.
What’s Cooking is on display thru January 3, 2012.
Rady Ananda specializes in Natural Resources and administers the sites Food Freedom and COTO Report.