A new labeling rule requires retailers to give consumers more information about the origin of their meat. Multinational corporations are ganging up to defeat the intent of the rule, all in the name of protecting consumers and creating efficiency. By now, this ought to sound familiar.
Not too long ago, the world’s pharmaceutical companies lobbied Congress to drop strict safety guidelines saying those placed an undue burden on America. It was unconstitutional they said, by driving up the cost of medicine. U.S. consumers shouldn’t care where medicine came from. It was none of their business actually, so long as they received adequate assurances of safety and effectiveness.
It was the most efficient way, they said, to keep prices low.
Pill imports soared. Prices did too.
Then car manufacturers saw the value of anonymity and removed all signs of nationalism from their products. “Built Like a Rock” and “Quality Is Job One” slogans were dropped for being too descriptive. Union workers were laid off as un-American by promoting U.S. jobs at the expense of corporate profits. Americans were discouraged from asking where their automobiles came from or who made them.
It was considered the most efficient way to supply America with cars.
Emboldened by their success, lobbyists then argued on behalf of international uniform manufacturers, that nationalism placed too large a burden on taxpayers. They were talking about costly American flags on the shoulders of policemen, firemen, soldiers, sailors and Marines. If we give up our own identity, then why care about any identity? Plain vanilla uniforms poured across ocean borders. Pennies saved per shirt equaled millions in taxpayer savings, and the only flag evident on American uniforms became one on collar band labels, that said “Made in China.”
News reports pointed to soaring Asian sweat shop hiring as proof our new One America, One World policy was the right thing to do.
It was all about reaching peak efficiency.
When it came time to replace weapons systems critical to our defense, lobbyists insisted that America could only be safe by purchasing those from the lowest bidder. It was un-American and unnecessary they said, for America to know where its bullets came from.
Full munitions efficiency could only be achieved overseas where labor was cheap and costs were low.
Then came food.
COOL, Country of Origin Labeling, had gotten in the way. There was too much information for consumers, and too much support for family farms. Knowing the truth about food was very inefficient…and for some, inconvenient.
It was time to un-COOL America.
With grocery stores or quick stops on almost every street corner, Americans were told they didn’t really need U.S. farmers and ranchers, because Americans could get their food from the store.
Financed by anonymous corporate sponsors, a great consumer movement sprang up to eliminate any mention of origin on food labels.
Thousands of unemployed workers, armed with bus tokens and meal tickets bankrolled by big business, were dispatched to Washington D.C. Picket lines on Capitol Hill stretched from Senate to House and back again.
Protestors’ cries were in favor not simply of cheaper food, but the cheapest food of all.
They had been told it was the most efficient way to feed America.
News media were deluged with facts and figures revealing immense savings for families unburdened by meaningless information on sources of food.
Because they’d been lied to so often, America no longer believed in anything,
The movement took hold.
Corporations called themselves things like “farms” or “co-ops.” Multi-national meat packers infiltrated the countryside and what were once real producer groups with false advertising and bogus claims. Words like “real” or “honest” or “healthy” meant nothing to consumers who had been convinced that efficient food meant cheap food through Big Food.
But all they had actually done efficiently was to destroy the integrity of food.
Family farms were replaced by huge multinational businesses very effective at slicing and dicing world food supplies into a mishmash of mush. Thanks to miraculous chemical flavors and coloring, the thing we now called food resembled whatever consumers were told they asked for without ever really being anything at all.
Wealthy and the elite enjoyed real cuts of farm-grown meat. Everyone else ate textured slime molded to look like chops or steaks, chicken or seafood. It was hailed as the latest, most efficient method of food manufacturing to date. All of it was referred to with the value-laden term “nuggets.”
That’s because they came from the gold mine of Big Food.
As politicians debated, fake political action groups masquerading as consumer or producer groups advertised endlessly in favor of removing all signs of nationalism. “We are one” was the national cry.
It became popular to haul the Stars and Stripes down off flagpoles on courthouse lawns and school yards, replacing Old Glory with a plain white flag of surrender.
When the last remaining patriots objected, they were told it would be good for America.
And very efficient.
Richard Oswald, a fifth generation farmer, lives in Langdon, Missouri, and is president of the Missouri Farmers Union.