Diet for a Dead Planet: How the Food Industry Is Killing Us

by Christopher D. Cook

Publisher: New Press
Publication Date: Tuesday, November 30, 2004
Number of Pages: 326
ISBN: 1565848640

Book Summary:
A harrowing indictment of industrial agriculture's threat to the future of food and the environment.

As mad cow disease hits hard in the United States and bird flu roils the Asian poultry markets, the issue of food safety has never been more stark. According to the Centers for Disease Control, more than 75 million Americans fell sick last year from the food they ate. Christopher D. Cook's riveting and timely investigation takes us beyond Fast Food Nation to explain why our entire food system is in crisis. Corporate consolidation of farms and supermarkets, high-tech drives to increase productivity, misplaced subsidies for exports, and inadequate regulation have all combined to produce a grim harvest. In these pages we encounter fruit and vegetables laminated by crop spray, slaughterhouses that transport illegal immigrants to the United States to butcher diseased meat for less than the minimum wage, and the near-extinction of American family farms.

Yet, Cook argues, there is another way: Sales of organic food nearly tripled to $13 billion in 2001-2002. Farmers' markets and food cooperatives are burgeoning across the nation, and the slow food and food justice movements have become part of the mainstream. The eloquence and concision of Diet for a Dead Planet will spur the campaign still further.

  • Food-borne pathogens cause up to 30 million human illnesses, and as many as 9,000 deaths, in the U.S. each year
  • Agriculture dumps nearly 500,000 tons of pesticides —many of them known carcinogens —on our food each year
  • American farms produce more than 1.3 billion tons of animal waste annually —5 tons for every U.S. citizen
  • For every dollar consumers spend on food, 81 cents goes on marketing with just 19 cents to the farmer
  • Farm subsidies in the United States and European Union total nearly half a billion dollars a day
  • The average food item in the United States travels 2,000 miles from farm to table



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