Home Health News Processed Food: Is A Price Rise On The Way?

Processed Food: Is A Price Rise On The Way?

by Erika Nicole Kendall

This might not be a big deal to anyone other than me…. but it should be. Not because I’m an eater of processed foods, but because I’m very aware of the purpose that inexpensive foods serve in our society… and if the prices start to rise again, I feel like it will – once again – change the quality of food accessible to those with the least to spend.

A city bus that runs purely on ethanol, Nottingham, UK

What am I talking about? This:

If anyone ever needed further evidence that corn is the most important and widely used element in the food supply, here it is: On Tuesday, no fewer than nine food industry groups banded together (along with oil companies) to sue the EPA over its decision last month to boost the allowable amount of corn-based ethanol in vehicle fuel from 10% to 20%.Corn is a sacred crop for food companies, because without it there would be a whole lot less processed food and meat would probably get a whole lot more expensive. Corn-based ingredients like modified corn starch, maltodextrin, propylene glycol, glycerin, citric acid, xantham gum and, of course, high fructose corn syrup are the building blocks of products ranging from breakfast cereal and salad dressing to chicken nuggets and ice cream.

But the biggest chunk of corn grown in the U.S. — and we’re far and away the biggest producer — goes into the feed that’s given to cattle, pigs and chickens. This accounts for 42%, while ethanol represents the next biggest use, gobbling up 32%.

The food groups involved in the suit — the Grocery Manufacturers Association, the American Meat Institute, the National Council of Chain Restaurants, the National Meat Association, the National Turkey Federation, the National Chicken Association, the National Pork Producers Council, the Snack Food Association and the American Frozen Food Institute — are worried that increased demand for ethanol is going to result in higher corn prices, a natural fear since it’s already happening. Corn prices are at a two-year high thanks to some combination of ethanol and projected lower yields.

The EPA’s decision to allow E15 fuel in cars that were made after the 2006 model year delivers a crushing blow to food processors and the meat industry, both of whom devoted considerable effort to lobbying against this. The groups have also been trying in vain to hack away at ethanol’s generous tax subsidies and import restrictions. The lawsuit, which was filed in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia, alleges that the EPA doesn’t have the authority to issue the new rule.

“For those consumers worried about climbing food prices, this decision will increase the amount of corn being diverted to our gas tanks and away from meat and poultry production,” said J. Patrick Boyle, CEO of the American Meat Institute.

I’m aware of the need for concern – really, I am. But I have no empathy what-so-ever for Big Food – they’ve manipulated crops and made “food” out of nothing, instead of making food out of… well, food. And while some might see that as something to be applauded in regards to food security, it ignores the point that food is supposed to nourish our bodies. When the food doesn’t do that, we suffer as a nation in regard to our health. It just doesn’t work.

I have a few thoughts in regard to this:

1) “Corn is a sacred crop for food companies, because without it there would be a whole lot less processed food and meat would probably get a whole lot more expensive. Corn-based ingredients like modified corn starch, maltodextrin, propylene glycol, glycerin, citric acid, xantham gum and, of course, high fructose corn syrup are the building blocks of products ranging from breakfast cereal and salad dressing to chicken nuggets and ice cream.”

I don’t know to explain this, but it’s disturbing. The ingredients for ice cream are cream, salt, sugar, vanilla extract and a strong right (left?) arm. How does corn fit into this? Why does corn fit into this?

2) Y’all know I’m a hippie, so let me put this out here: This speaks to sustainability in our current food system. We suck down foods that aren’t, well, foods…. just clever manipulations of corn. Because the price of corn is ridiculously cheap, the industry decided to use corn in as many ways as they could to save money. That’s smart… but it shortchanged us all because while it may “stuff” us it certainly doesn’t “nourish” us, and that’s the primary purpose of food.

If the demand for an item increases, the supply decreases.

If the Environmental Protection Agency wants to help move us off of oil (a resource that, once fully depleted cannot be replenished) onto a corn-based fuel (corn, something that obviously can be easily renewed)… the food industry wants to block that because then they’d actually have to make food out of food? Not chemicals derived from corn?

If the demand for an item increases, the price increases as well. If you ran a store that had the same five shoppers every day, and then one day you get 200 shoppers in all at the same time? Would you be an opportunist and raise your prices so that you could benefit off of the boom? Especially since you know you might be back to those same five shoppers tomorrow? Let’s be real, here.

The EPA increasing the amount of corn that can be used in ethanol increases the demand, causing the price to raise for everyone… and that cost will be passed onto the consumer. A wildly unstable system was created by greed (it’s cheaper to create food out of corn instead of food!!!!!), and instead of recognizing this and deciding to do right by it… they’d rather do what they can to halt our progress in being less dependent upon oil?

Think about that for a minute – we all remember the gigantic gas hike a while back. We all were crushed by how much the price of gas was. The price of food went up! We’ve all benefit from an unsustainable system, and it’s not helping us to ignore these problems and sue instead of making these very necessary changes. Think about the last time you heard of an industry trying to avoid evolving with the times and needs of the public. It collapsed. Food is far too necessary for the stubbornness of the industry to go this route.

I talk a lot about the wellness and weight loss benefits of clean eating, but the environmental element is usually what gives me the most backlash. It’s okay- I still love y’all. What makes this important is that if you are still a purchaser of processed foods, you may slowly start to feel a pinch in your wallet because of the coming changes in the system. I also wouldn’t be surprised to see changes in the “recipes” for some of America’s favorite processed foods, in order to keep the cost down… which will, undoubtedly, turn into even more malnourishment.

What are your thoughts?

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11 comments

Thembi November 15, 2010 - 12:44 PM

I’ve been off of processed foods (except for a little Heinz ketchup and Splenda here and there) for about two weeks now. I feel way lighter with more energy, have lost weight, and cant imagine going back to eating weirdness, and I wasn’t even aware that I was eating all that much of it. So lately it makes me sadder than ever that everyday foods just aren’t foods at all at best, at worst poison. I’m a huge fan of capitalism but don’t trust our government. The only solution is awareness.

313QT January 6, 2011 - 10:43 AM

You shoiuld try to stop eating Splenda as well because it contains suralose and aspartame which can cause all sort of things such as cancers, tumors etc. Google the side effects and the ingredients in it to see for yourself.

Chris November 15, 2010 - 1:09 PM

The disturbing part of this article was that no one wanted corn for corn. It didn’t say that the price of corn would be increasing at the supermarket and for farmers who feed their cattle corn. It said the price would increase because all these weird chemicals I can’t pronounce are made with corn.

Getting away from oil fuels is important in our development because it makes us self sufficient from other countries however, this does not net a profit for people who have invested their futures so heavily in oil. All I can say is that this sucks for everyone.

Makes me want to start growing my own crops.

Elita @ Blacktating November 15, 2010 - 1:42 PM

What’s very disturbing about this to me, besides the points you’ve brought up, is that neither humans nor cows are really supposed to be eating corn. Have you ever given a little kid corn? They shit out the corn the same way it went down! I just don’t think we were meant to eat grains in the amount that we do. Also, cows are supposed to eat GRASS, not corn. We’re ruining our meat supply well before it even gets to the butcher by feeding cows a subpar diet of corn.

J July 5, 2011 - 1:21 PM

Native Americans ate corn for centuries. They just didn’t bastardize it the way we have. I think it may be more fair to say that “the majority of people on Earth were not meant to eat corn,” because it was all fine and dandy for Native Americans at one time. (Just like the majority of people on Earth were not meant to drink milk after a certain age. It may be alright for many Northern Europeans, but most of us can’t process it. Side note: I am lactose tolerant and African American, so there are of course exceptions!)

I personally believe there’s nothing wrong with corn in it’s purest sense (corn meal/flour, corn on the cob, etc.) or in moderation (i.e., not in everything you’re eating).

J July 5, 2011 - 1:22 PM

I agree with you on cattle and corn though!

JoAnna November 15, 2010 - 1:43 PM

I’ve been cutting back on animal proteins (as the star of my plates)and allowing them to co-star with cooked veggies and raw salads. With winter approaching, my grocery list will be a bit more expensive, but not as much as if I bought processed foods and steaks all the time. You can buy a lot more food if you fill up your basket with seasonal fruits and salads and nuts, and eggs, than with boxed cereal, frozen microwave meals, packaged cookies, chips, and prime cuts of beef.

It takes some planning, but increased meat prices, doesn’t have to mean deprivation. One of my favorite dishes is stir-fried rice. Basically, cooked rice with added fresh vegetables with small amounts meat, and eggs (for protein) blended in a wok. It’s a complete dish with emphasis on the rice and vegetables, not meat. Or split pea soup with multigrain bread and a salad. Same thing. Most people around the world eat a lot less than we do, and what they do eat revolves around grains and vegetables. They also tend to be a lot slimmer than most Americans.

Eventually, the world will run out of oil. You don’t want to be on the toliet after a loose bowel movement to discover that you’re out of toliet tissue… But the article doesn’t address that folk have discovered that switchgrass works almost as well to produce ethanol but doesn’t compete with it’s food usage, thrives in poor soils, and the entire plant can be used.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cellulosic_ethanol
It’s just easier to use corn because that infrastructure is already there.

All I’m sayin’ is that the corporations who have invested so much in the corn industry wants to maintain the staus quo: fat mindless consuming American consumers addicted to corn “frankenfoods” for as long as possible. We already saw those tv ads promoting high fructose corn syrup as being “fine in moderation”… And there’s never a large or fat person in those ads… But that’s another tangent.

Erika November 15, 2010 - 1:47 PM

Y’all are brilliant.

Lisa Crunick December 20, 2010 - 2:34 AM

Erika,

This is a great post. Thank you.

I find that the higher quality food I buy, more easily I am satisfied. An egg from a chicken that gets to eat what chickens eat naturally has more nutrition. Grass fed beef has omega 3s and tastes better than beef from corn-fed cows. This list goes on..

Every community deserves to have access to quality food at affordable prices. Wherever you live, please support your local farmers who are trying to make a difference. It is not easy for them.

Lisa Crunick

Jo March 25, 2013 - 6:55 AM

“But I have no empathy what-so-ever for Big Food – they’ve manipulated crops and made “food” out of nothing, instead of making food out of… well, food.”

I completely agree with you.

To be honest, Iv’e stopped eating anything that comes out of a packet. Processed food contains little to no nutritional value – its dead food and that’ why its killing people.

Unfortunately, natural foods are becoming more expensive while crap food becomes cheaper and in down economy that’s what many folks can only afford. Its no coincidence that a higher % of fast food joints are located in areas where incomes are well below average.

The best thing to do is stop eating the crap and start supporting local farmers and suppliers before big Food Pharma take over.

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