Mega companies dictate our food choices, prices, and what farmers grow
Walking through a U.S. grocery store can be overwhelming. Just so many things. But an investigation by The Guardian about America’s food monopolies dispels the notion that consumers actually have a choice in the brands they pick. The outlet, in partnership with the nonprofit Food and Water Watch, found that just a few powerful companies “control the majority market share of almost 80 percent of dozens of grocery items bought regularly by ordinary Americans.” So what does this look like in practice? PepsiCo, for example, controls 88 percent of the dip market because it owns five of the most popular brands, including Tostitos, Lay’s, and Fritos. Ninety-three percent of the sodas we drink are owned by just three companies, and the same is true for 73 percent of popular breakfast cereals. Weak regulation and unhampered mergers and acquisitions led to the rise of these mega companies. And this isn’t just bad for consumers, whose food choices and costs are dictated by these companies. The corporations also have undue influence over what the country’s farmers grow and how much they are paid, fueling the exploitative conditions commonly experienced by agricultural workers, a majority of whom are migrants. Just 15 cents of every dollar we spend in the supermarket goes to farmers; the rest goes to processing and marketing our food.