listen to the author read this post:
It’s early days yet, but the COVID-19 pandemic has already proven to be revelatory, exposing much that is ugly about the “normal” functioning of the US: the sorry state of health care, the unresponsiveness of corporate-owned government, the hyper individuality of the populace, the high levels of ignorance among the same, and the racism of the entire system.
Regarding that lattermost point: This nation was founded by white Europeans who stole the land from the Indigenous and then built wealth with African slaves, and guess who’s doing the worst in this pandemic? The Native Americans and the Blacks. And look who’s protesting the loudest to get things “back to normal”: Whites, many of them with Confederate flags. Let that sink in.
Agriculture was at the heart of the settler colonialism: The land was seized for farming and the people were kidnapped to work the fields. From brutal beginnings, the situation has only worsened, especially in the last few decades. Small-scale, family-farming à la Old MacDonald is the stuff of myth at this point, with precious few exceptions. Pesticide use is up, ground-water levels are down, top soil is blowing away, wildlife biodiversity is shrinking, and human workers are abused.
Corporate ownership of the means of food production has led to concentrated ownership, de-localization, and supply chains that are brittle in response to stress. A handful of corporate giants (in fact, only four) have gobbled up most of the US meat industry.
These corporations have set up “economies of scale” that utilize mass mechanization and impose horrific living conditions never before seen—and not seen enough, thanks in part to “Ag Gag” laws that forbid photographic or video documentation of what goes on in such places. One could be forgiven for assuming these companies don’t want their customers to know the details of how their meat is processed. Especially when the results are thing like fecal matter in 100% of the ground beef (as found in a food-safety test conducted by Consumer Reports in 2015). Jim Hightower went so far as to say that factory farms aren’t farms, but “concentration camps for animals.”