Long, long ago, when I was living in Haiti, the owner of the tiny weekly newspaper I worked for set off on a sailing trip and left me without access to the paper’s bank account. That left me to survive on the small change I took in for classified ads. Eventually, I got so short of cash that I went without food for four days.
So I know how important food is.
When you’re hungry – really hungry – nothing else matters.
In America, it seems, food is taken for granted. All kinds of other things get more attention. Oil companies, for example, receive massive subsidies from the government, and the price of gas dominates the headlines. Meanwhile, politicians talk about “manufacturing” as the answer to the country’s economic woes. They seem to forget that you can’t eat gasoline or cars.
But Willie Nelson knows better.
In a “Reader Supported News” article today, co-authored with Anna Lappe, the legendary country singer warns:
Our food is under threat. It is felt by every family farmer who has lost their land and livelihood, every parent who can’t find affordable or healthy ingredients in their neighborhood, every person worried about food borne illnesses thanks to lobbyist-weakened food safety laws, every farm worker who faces toxic pesticides in the fields as part of a day’s work.
When our food is at risk we are all at risk.
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 company: Monsanto. 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….
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.
Nelson is calling on Americans to join a massive protest on Monday. More than 60 “Occupy” groups and other organizations are staging protests in Brazil, Hungary, Ireland, Argentina, the United States and other countries to call attention to the dangers we all face from the agricultural giants that control the world’s food supply.
Nelson (shown above at his “Farm Aid” concert) writes that:
People will be reclaiming unused bank-owned lots to create community gardens; hosting seed exchanges in front of stock exchanges; labeling products on grocery store shelves that contain genetically engineered ingredients; building community alliances to support locally owned grocery stores and resist Walmart megastores; and fighting back against industrial giants Monsanto and Cargill.
If you don’t have to go to work on Monday, and you want to add your voice to the protest, click the link below to find an event near you: