Agriculture Workshop Comment Number: AGW-14118

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Comment Number: AGW-14118

From: Cammy Watts
Sent: Wednesday, December 30, 2009 1:37 PM
To: ATR-Agricultural Workshops
Subject: Comments Regarding Agriculture and Antitrust Enforcement Issues in Our 21st Century Economy

Comments Regarding Agriculture and Antitrust Enforcement Issues in Our
21st Century Economy

I work for a non-profit called The Food Project based in Boston, MA
that is partnering with youth to build a healthier food system in
Boston.  My efforts are focused on working with under-served
communities to help them start farmers' markets and to make those
markets accessible to participants in the Supplemental Nutrition
Assistance Program (SNAP).  I split my time between the city and my
husband's farm in rural Maine where we are fortunate to be able to
grow most of the food for our family.   I am deeply concerned about
corporate consolidation in the agricultural, processing, and
supermarket sectors, and I appreciate your investigating this issue.

In both the rural and urban communities where I spend my time I am
able to see the effects large food corporations have had on the health
and well being of America.  Every day I watch young children on the
street outside my office heading to the bodegas to buy chips and soda
for breakfast.  I work with third graders and teenagers who are so
obese that they have difficulty getting down to weed their lettuce
plants.  I see people who are overweight in Maine using their SNAP
benefits to purchase foods with empty calories that are high in fats
and sugars but cheap in price.  Forty years ago these neighbors grew
their own food, and it was processed in their kitchens, not is some
unknown factory in China or feedlot 2,000 miles away.  Now my town is
littered with abandoned chicken houses, because Tyson and Perdue stole
the livelihood from small poultry farmers.

The strangle hold large agribusiness has on our food system has
compelled me to devote the last 20 years to working to build a safer
and healthier food system. Because I grow much of my own food, I have
been somewhat immune to the direct impacts that I have watched my
neighbors suffer.   However, six months ago the effects became much
more personal.  Last July my husband was diagnosed with throat cancer,
and the radiation treatments prescribed made him unable to swallow.
The doctors implanted a feeding tube so that he could continue to get
nutrition. When we investigated the various formulas that he could use
with his tube, we discovered that there was not a one that did not
list high fructose corn syrup and canola oil among the top
ingredients.  Because neither of these ingredients (which are in the
majority of foods available on the grocery shelves) have any inherent
nutritive value, all the vitamins and minerals he required had to be
added to the formulas.  So here was a person who needed the healthiest
 food he could get to build his immune system and help him fight a
disease, who instead was forced to consume industrial waste products.
No where in the literature have I been able to find a reference to any
study that recommends consuming high fructose corn syrup and canola
oil as part of a healthy diet, yet this is the only thing available to
infants, elders and ill people who use feeding tubes.  And I should
not be surprised.  The agricultural lobby has assured that the Farm
Bill still includes large subsidies for commodity farmers.  These in
turn provide a ready supply of cheap sugars and fats that can be
passed along to the consumer disguised as food at prices below those
charged for an apple.

Thank you for the opportunity to weigh in on this important matter. I
look forward to following the hearings process in the coming year.


Campbell Watts

Campbell Watts
Dir. of Education & Advocacy
The Food Project
555 Dudley St.
Dorchester, MA 02125
617-442-1322 (city office)
781-259-8621 x28 (Lincoln office)

Updated April 7, 2016

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