* by Mark
Our food system is pony.
We all know it, we have all known it for quite some time now, yet what do we do about it?
We all eat roughly 3 times a day or 21 meals a week, knocking one meal off for that missed lunch last week because we were just too busy to stop leaves us with a nice round 20. A family of 4 and we are up to 80 meals a week, that’s a lot of food to be found, bought, prepared and finally eaten. Set in the context that in the 21st century it takes two incomes to survive and have any reasonable hope of having nice stuff to play with on those brief moments off. These two facts come together in, currently a most unfortunate way, let me explain why…..
I will speak in generalisations and I am happy with that as I am very confident we have all fallen foul of the traps that cause the behaviour our food industry takes advantage of.
Let’s agree we are all busy people and when everyone finally arrives home after another stress filled day at work, college, school or other, we are tired and long to crash on the sofa to rest legs or preferred unwinding activity. Then the issue is raised, everyone is hungry and what is for dinner. Arguments, strops and evil glares my abound at this point as no one wants to do the preparing and cooking and for the love of everything wonderful in this world it must surely be someone else’s turn tonight! Everyone remembering a moment when this has happened yet? So what traditionally happens at this point is the fridge and freezer receive a fully expected visit. Stuff is shuffled and poked and expiration dates checked. A million different homes and a million versions of the fridge / freezer visit but all heading for the same result, what will make the quickest yet still tasty meal. This is the point at which you incorrectly decide that the ready meal you’re holding that only requires 3 minutes in the microwave oven is the best answer. After you have eaten it, you may start to realise the error of your ways and if not in time your body will tell you by changing shape.
Our food supply is managed and controlled by a surprisingly small group of companies. Just because the label says it’s from a company called Happy Foods Inc they in turn may be (probably are) wholly owned by larger company who in turn are owned by a large multinational conglomerate who is owned by its shareholders. Now anyone who has even the vaguest idea of what any individual stockholder looks like (i.e. anyone who has invested in the stock market) then they will know that all stockholders value only one thing in their investment, profit! Profit is king, free money for taking a punt on a company what could possibly go wrong. So for our conglomerate to deliver profits to the ever howling crowd of shareholders it must be profitable. This is obvious I know but it’s also the law, all public companies are required by law to maximise their profits over all other considerations. Now, where does our conglomerate get the money to keep this obligation? That’s right: you and me.
The supermarket is king in this day and age, the high street has transformed into a social area with a few conglomerates with house hold names interspersed with a few novelty shops. Now the vast majority of us when we want food we go to the local supermarket. How many supermarkets can you think of as a pop quiz, naming 3 is easy even 5 is straight forward but try 10 and I bet you will really start to struggle. As we established our food is controlled by very few. Now they watch us and they watch us very closely, how closely I hear you ask. How about this, this is in use in certain areas out there at this very moment…. As you enter the supermarket it locks onto your GPS (oh, mobile phones… don’t you just love them) and they record where you walk and how long you stay looking at a product section. This data is merged together and the supermarket can adapt its layout and what stock sections should be expanded and which can be reduced or even abandoned. So next time you’re looking around your local supermarket ask yourself why are there 4 alleyways of ready-made meals but only one of fresh produce.
We are busy, tired, hassled and with very little quality time to spend with loved ones. They are profit driven relentless observers of our behaviours, just remember that next time you go shopping, what you buy influences the world!