The recent newscasts regarding surging food costs and global food scarcity reminded me of an editorial I wrote for Nutrition Close-Up in the fall of 2000. I think it’s time to read part of it again.
I dream that in year 2020, I stopped for a quick breakfast of egg and sausage on an English muffin, hash brown potatoes, and glass of milk. The food was fine, but, I was charged $72.54 for breakfast. What an outrage! What happened to America’s low-cost, fast food? Frustrated and irritated, I went looking for answers. Somebody was going to explain why I was paying $72.54 for breakfast. Didn’t they know I was retired, living on a fixed income. After I yelled and screamed, and ranted and raved, some corporate type sat me down and told me the story.
It seems that over the years our national goal of an abundant, affordable food supply had been diverted from the consumer in favor of those with the loudest voices and most coercive tactics. For example, the wheat used to make the English muffin was 20 times the cost at the turn of the century due to the low yield of pest sensitive strains of wheat. Since genetically engineered wheat was banned in the U.S., and couldn’t be imported, grain production on the ever decreasing U.S. agricultural land mass was steadily going down, and getting of poorer and poorer quality. So my little English muffin cost $11.28.
My glass of milk cost $12.88 since there was little milk production in the U.S. and, thanks to the animal rights bunch, all cows were now free to roam the few farms left for dairy production, and by law had to be hand milked. And for sure no one was allowed that artificial hormone to stimulate milk production. Added on top of that was the fat tax, imposed by righteous consumer advocates who wanted to make sure those who sinned paid their dues. And then the cancer tax that another self-important advocate group had used fabricated science to con the government, and many consumers, into believing was true.
The potatoes in my hash browns were all imported due to the demise of the U.S. potato industry following a severe potato blight which wiped out the blight sensitive (no genetically modified resistant strains allowed) strains allowed for U.S. production. The potatoes were now imported from South America but the cost of inspection at the border and the detailed and exhaustive testing for every known human pathogen (required by laws pushed by the food safety advocates) resulted in massive spoilage and refusal of the majority of imports. Oh, and since my hash browns were fried I had to pay the fat tax. Final cost, $14.36.
And the price of eggs had increased a bit too. Thanks to the demands and threats of animal rights groups like PETA, chickens were first given more space (cost increase 20-30%), then the following demand was that only free-range eggs be available in the market place (another 70% increase), and once that was accomplished the animal activists demanded and were awarded with an animal protein tax which, on top of the cholesterol tax, really did help them achieve their goal of imposing a vegetarian life style on everyone. And, since it now required more land, not less, to produce eggs and, since the available land mass for agriculture was disappearing with urban sprawl, egg prices went through the roof. Instead of paying $0.89 a dozen, it was more like $8.90 an egg. And while the consumer kept blaming those dirty rotten egg producers for gouging the market and short supplying the demand, the chickens were said to be happy, and the animal rights gang was euphoric. So to buy it, crack it and cook it, I was charged $12.69.
And finally, the sausage! $21.33! Fat tax, animal protein tax, cancer tax, banned factory farming, banned hog pens, banned breeding pens, banned overfeeding, banned genetic manipulation for disease resistance, limited production land, high cost of imported feed grains, and layer upon layer of oversight and inspection for animal welfare and testing upon testing for food safety. Actually, more people saw that hog, tested that hog and pampered that hog than the number of people who ate that hog.
And then I woke up. What a nightmare! Seemed like every crazy cabal with an agenda had gotten their way making their life-style my life-style. How many more kids would have been hungry if this became true? How many elderly would have food insufficiency if this happened? Surely people wouldn’t sit back and let a bunch of loud, pushy, overbearing, self-appointed, self-righteous anointed few dictate and rule their lives.
And back then I didn’t even consider bio-fuels. And if you’re still not convinced, the HSUS efforts to get legislation passed state-by-state banning conventional egg production is going full force. Times of increased food costs and increased food scarcity is no time to put limits on food production. I believe people are significantly more important than SUVs and vegetarian agendas and that this really is a matter of life or death.