In Jefferson's time, the greatest threat to liberty came from overbearing governmental power, first from the British and later from the Hamiltonians. If he could take a peek into our own time, however, he would see the unrestrained greed and arrogance of corporate power to be just as great a threat as that of government. Indeed, it often seems that those two go hand-in-hand, working together to reduce the American people to a state of dependence.
Nothing would terrify Jefferson more than the control multinational corporations have over the nation's food supply. In his time, more than nineteen out of twenty citizens were independent farmers entirely self-sufficient in terms of food. In our time, independent farmers have virtually vanished as a segment of society. Only about two percent of Americans today are farmers, and most of those have been reduced to the status of servants of the big multinational corporations.
It might seem infinitely more convenient for an American citizen to go to the grocery store to buy a loaf of bread than for him to grow it and produce it himself, but the unseen costs are astronomical. By allowing something as fundamental as our food supply to be taken out of our own individual control, we have perhaps gained a bit of comfort, but only at the price of freedom. Even worse, we have little or no idea how the multinational food corporations are producing the food itself.
A wonderful documentary, Food, Inc., hit the theaters last year and is now available for rental. Better than any previous documentary on the subject, it lays out the facts of how the big multinational corporations have taken control of the nation's food supply, how they disdain the health and safety of our citizens in pursuit of profits, and how their lobbying of the federal government allows them to avoid any meaningful regulation which might help protect the American people. Directed by Robert Kenner and featuring authors Eric Schlosser (Fast Food Nation) and Michael Pollan (In Defense of Food), this movie cannot be recommended strongly enough.
Watch the trailer below.
Find this movie and watch it whenever you get the chance. Better yet, invite a bunch of friends over and watch it together while eating a meal made from ingredients purchased entirely at the local farmer's market.