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Occupy Wall Street in order to Eat

Occupy Wall Street (for those who have been in isolation since September 17th) is a movement that started on Wall Street (and thus is very aptly named) and has rapidly expanded to cities worldwide.  Protestors and activists are seeking change in economic tax structure, corporate business practices, and income distribution (among other things).  In short, the rich are getting richer and the poor are getting poorer.  So what does food have to do with it?

Corporations, particularly American corporations have a history of being greedy and unethical.  Agribusiness and the sale of food contribute nearly 10% to our GDP (Gross Domestic Product), over $3.2 trillion is generated from overseas sales and the industry employs 16.5 million people.  Yet World Hunger Organization reports that there are about 925 million people starving worldwide.  Obviously, as our population grows, so does the need for food.  With such influence over worlds’ food, is it possible that agribusiness is holding out on us?  And by us, I mean the ‘99%’ – worldwide.

Boy, are they holding out.  The world currently produces enough food to feed everyone (and more) currently living on the planet.  So, with all this food around, who are the 99% and why are they so hungry?

Let’s be honest – for the most part, we live like kings in the US.  We have freedom and rights that others only dream of.  While we don’t feel rich all the time, we reside in the wealthiest nation.  Though the working poor of this country are hungry, they aren’t the majority.  It’s the people who live outside our wealthy nation that are hungry and they’re hungry because they’re poor.  Why did this happen? 

The short answer: economic practices and derivatives principles that are difficult to understand without an MBA in economics.  My best summary: motivated by profit, not demand.  Agribusiness doesn’t want to give food away; they want to make a profit because they have a product that people need.  And we’ll always need it to sustain life so the demand, regardless of socioeconomic status will always exist.  In their eyes, why lose money on the poor when you can make money on the rich?

Food has become a commodity and is treated as such by the massive corporations that control the food industry.  Just like the wealthy 1%, a huge majority of the food-wealth is controlled by fewer than 5 corporations.  Those corporations treat their top 1% well, but farmers, the environment, and our health are secondary to profit.  Basically, our food supply is at the whim of very few people so whether or not you agree with OWS, I think we can all agree that no one should be at their mercy.

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