Fast food was made possible by sheer economies of scale of the factory farm system.
The explosive growth of “drive-through” windows, our eat-on-the-run lifestyle, and junk food establishments on every corner spawned epidemics of obesity, diabetes and cardiovascular disease.
If that sounds like too strong a statement, maybe it is but consider the timing.
The growth of factory farms, the proliferation of Mickey Dee's, Kentucky Fried crap, Booger King, et all, and the arrival of the big three in modern epidemics just named, all show a pretty clear chain reaction; a series of cause and effects.
Author Eric Schlosser has documented very well what the fast food industry has done to us and our country. Click on the image of his landmark book, Fast Food Nation, for a review and opportunity to own it.
The first (cheap beef and chicken) led to the second (fast food industry) which led to the third (obesity and diabetes) but before any of it could occur; our government had to put it all in motion with subsidized corn.
Want to place the blame on a specific person? That would be Mr. Earl Butz; more on him later.
Is there any doubt that there is an obesity and a diabetes epidemic in the U.S. and spreading throughout the world? Is it a coincidence that the rise in obesity and diabetes corresponds with the beginning of government subsidies of corn and the rise of confined animal feeding operations, CAFOs?
Is it a coincidence that the rise of the fast food industry, or junk food industry, corresponds with the rise of CAFOs?
Is it a coincidence that the rise of antibiotic resistant bacteria corresponds with the increasing use of antibiotics in captive animal feeding operations?
It is very difficult to prove a cause and effect relationship since most of the evidence is circumstantial but the linkage is compelling.
The first thing a good forensic scientist would do is look at the timelines and draw parallels to the questions posed above.
The early seventies seem to be pivotal point for the rise of corn and CAFOs and the decline of the health of the nation.
Since our thesis is that corn is the fuel for everything that is wrong with mass produced animal flesh and dairy products as well as the driver of most of our chronic health issues today, we will draw heavily on research done on the evolution of corn by Michael Pollan and reported in his book, Omnivore's Dilemma. Click on the book's image below to review the book and make it part of your library.
Nixon's secretary of agriculture, Earl Butz, in 1973 got through a farm bill that undid the New Deal practices of price supports though loans, government grain purchases and idling land by paying farmers "not to plant".
These practices were replaced with a new system of direct payments to farmers encouraging them to plant more. By the 1980's the government was subsidizing every bushel of corn produced and corn production took off.
Photo: Earl Butz, Sec. of Agriculture under Nixon/Ford
Butz was a piece of work. He is credited with starting the rise of industrial-sized corn farming, the demise of the small farm and the infusion of corn into every aspect of our current diet.
His message to the country's farmers was to get big or get out but it was his racist, foul mouth that forced his resignation in October 1976. Good riddance!
On a more pleasant subject, if one wanted to avoid factory farmed beef or pork or even turkeys, and was looking for healthy, pastured, grass fed meat, then look no farther than Snake River Farms in the link below. Their offerings are first rate and delivered to your door.
Looking at the timeline below, we see that the fast food business started very early, 1921 to be exact, with the first White Castle.
From then until the early 1970's, the industry was characterized by many new entries; Kentucky Fried, McDonald's, Dunkin Donuts, Burger King, Sonic, Pizza Hut, Taco Bell, Subway and Wendy's.
It wasn't until the early to mid-70s that the growth of fast food really took off. In 1972 McDonald's passed the $1 billion mark in sales and hit $3 billion by 1976.
Let's see, when was it that corn started being subsidized by the government...1973; and by 1980 every bushel of corn grown was subsidized. Explosive growth in corn production meant more beef in the feedlots and more burgers on the grill.
It also meant more chickens in Tyson's and Perdue's battery cages to supply more KFC's.
Do we believe in coincidences? The timing seems to point to the government being behind the explosion of cheap, fast food and by extension, behind the explosion in obesity, diabetes and cardiovascular disease.
Just for the fun of it (and for referencing the time line) the list below is included to show the evolution of the fast food industry.
We will keep the list of itemized dates and events above handy for reference and add to it as new milestones are reached.
In the following pages, the cause and effect list above will be expanded as each new piece of circumstantial evidence is presented.
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Impacts of Factory Farming on Community Health
Infectious Organisms from Factory Farms
Factory Farm contribution to Obesity and Diabetes