Food in America seems at first glance bountiful and, for most, fairly inexpensive. But behind the grocery receipt, the costs of today’s corporate-controlled food supply are staggering. Foodborne illnesses cost more than $30 billion a year in treatment and lost work time. We spend $78 billion annually in medical expenses for diseases associated with diet and physical inactivity — now the second-leading cause of preventable deaths; two thirds of all Americans are overweight, 30% are medically defined as obese. Nearly $20 billion in public money goes to farm subsidy payments, two thirds of which go to the top 10% of growers.
If we are what we eat, then, as Christopher D. Cook contends in this powerful look at the food industry, we are not in good shape. The facts speak for themselves: more than 75 million Americans suffered from food poisoning last year, and 5,000 of them died; 67 percent of American males are overweight, obesity is the second leading cause of preventable death in the United States and super sizing is just the tip of the iceberg: the way we make and eat food today is putting our environment and the very future of food at risk.
Diet for a Dead Planet takes us beyond Fast Food Nation to show how our entire food system is in crisis. Corporate control of farms and supermarket outlets, unsustainable drives to increase agribusiness productivity and profits, misplaced subsidies for exports, and anemic regulation have all combined to produce a grim harvest. Food, our most basic necessity, has become a force behind a staggering array of social, economic, and environmental epidemics.