Capitalist Economies Overproduce Food

The unprecedented pandemic, and the recession it has caused, has led to a sharp increase in food insecurity in the United States. The problem isn’t that there isn’t enough food to go around, but that more and more people are unable to afford to purchase it. Last year the United Nations World Food Program (WFP) recently released a report predicting that the number of people facing extreme hunger could soar to 270 million by the end of 2020 — effectively doubling.

What’s leading to these extreme statistics isn’t a lack of availability — it’s that many people simply can’t afford to purchase food. Like with many commodities, capitalist markets are fairly good at producing food, but they are not so efficient at distributing it equitably.

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“Cheap And Exploitable Labor”: New Report Shows Food Companies Use Cultural Exchange Program To Recruit Foreign Workers

Imagine you’re a foreign student entering the United States on a summer work visa. You’ve been promised an ice cream-drenched summer filled with opportunities for travel, plus a job that pays enough to fund your next year of college. You get a glowing letter from the Department of State welcoming you to the country. This is the first time anyone has ever compiled a list of the employers that use the program most often. “As a summer work travel participant, you are part of a U.S. Department of State cultural exchange program in which you, like thousands of other summer work travel participants…

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Beyond GMOs And Fast Food Nation: Regenerating Public Health

After decades of chemical-intensive agriculture, factory farms and genetically modified organisms (GMOs) in our food, and an ongoing war against natural systems and traditional knowledge, America’s rural communities, environment and public health are rapidly deteriorating. The fatal harvest of Big Food Inc. includes rural economic decline and depopulation throughout the Americas, forced migration from Mexico and Central America, water and air pollution, aquifer depletion, pollinator and biodiversity destruction, soil erosion and fertility loss, climate destabilization, food contamination and nutrient degradation, and deteriorating public health. Unfortunately, the U.S. Congress and the White House, aided and abetted by collaborators north and south of the border, are still dishing out their standard culinary message: Shut up and eat your GMOs.

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Burger King Loves Net Neutrality (?!) And Other Whoppers

Some buzz-killers are complaining that Burger King doesn’t really care about Net Neutrality and is just trying to exploit a hot-button topic. To them, I say: I know! Isn’t it great?! Net Neutrality is so popular right now that it’s being used to sell hamburgers. This supposedly obscure issue, one that all the political experts spent years trying to dismiss and rename, is so prominent that Burger-freaking-King wants a piece of it. Right now Net Neutrality ranks high on the list of concerns of millennial voters — right up there with marijuana legalization. If nothing else, BK knows its target demo. The unprecedented public response since Ajit Pai’s FCC moved to kill Net Neutrality in December has now seized the attention of Madison Avenue. This is new territory. And it’s delicious.

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Iowa Fast-Food, Hospital Workers Protest Gov. Reynolds

Gov. Reynolds and Republican state lawmakers have waged a string of attacks on workers’ unions in recent years. Last February, then-Gov. Terry Branstad signed into law a bill endorsed by then-Lt. Gov. Kim Reynolds curbing collective bargaining rights for thousands of public sector workers in the state. The law strips workers of the right to bargain over healthcare and other benefits and forces workers to recertify their union before each bargaining session. In March, Branstad signed into law a bill passed by the Republican legislature blocking all localities from raising their minimum wage, nullifying local wage increases that had been passed in Polk, Johnson, Linn and Wapello Counties.

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Dairy Queen Tells Racist Franchisee His Store Is Closed Forever

By Clint Rainey for Grub Street – Despite him using the word “freely to describe black people,” police told Ford it wasn’t a criminal act, so there wasn’t much they could do. Ford took to Facebook instead, where her post quickly exploded. While she says the site deleted the original for some reason, her updates have received plenty of attention: It didn’t take long for Dairy Queen’s headquarters to take action. It released a statement Thursday that called Crichton’s behavior “inexcusable, reprehensible, and unacceptable,” and then, on Friday, the chain announced that Crichton’s restaurant would close, effective immediately, and “not reopen as a Dairy Queen unless ownership changes at that location.”

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Appeals Board Upholds Minimum Wage Hike To $15

By Matthew Hamilton for Times Union – The state Industrial Board of Appeals has upheld the planned increase to a $15 minimum wage for the state’s fast food workers. “No one who works hard should ever be condemned to a life of poverty and that’s why we are continuing the fight today,” said Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who called for a wage board to consider increasing the pay for fast food workers earlier this year. “We will not stop until we ensure a new standard of economic justice for all workers – and when New York acts, the rest of the nation follows.” The IBA shot down the National Restaurant Association’s arguments that internet entrepreneur Kevin Ryan was not an appropriate employer representative on the wage board…

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$15 An Hour NOW – Not 5 To 7 Years From Now

By C. Robert Gibson in Occupy – So, to be clear, $15 an hour now is neither an unreasonable nor irrational demand. By contrast, the default argument against increasing the minimum wage is the alleged harm it will do to businesses. This can be negated by simply restructuring existing corporate entitlement programs already in place.

According to a 2014 report by Good Jobs First, just 965 corporations have received over 75 percent of all state business subsidies. Fortune 500 companies – by definition the most successful and profitable in the world – received $63 billion in taxpayer handouts. Good Jobs First found that out of 441,000 entitlement programs (277,000 state and local; 164,000 federal), those 965 corporations received a total of 25,000 entitlements worth $110 billion through various subsidiary corporations.

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Year After Seattle Raises Minimum Wage, No Economic Disaster

By Working Washington – In the year between the first Seattle fast food strikes and the passage Seattle’s landmark $15 minimum wage law, we heard all kinds of of sky-is-falling predictions from business owners, academics, and others. Week after week, self-appointed experts showed up in the news, insisting that they knew best. It was Economics 101, they’d say: higher wages would surely sink the economy. Businesses would be destroyed.Franchises would cease to exist. Prices would rise 25% or more. Open for business signs would go dark, owners would move to Texas, and Seattle would become a city of Cheesecake Factories.

Their arguments are pretty much the same stuff as business lobbyists have been saying since child labor laws were passed. And yet they were treated as credible sources in Seattle’s public debate.

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Chipotle Under Attack For Going GMO Free

The biotech industry has a long history of discrediting scientists who challenge the safety of GMOs. That intimidation campaign worked well until consumers connected the dots between GMO foods (and the toxic chemicals used to grow them) and health concerns. Once consumers demanded labels on GMO foods, the biotech industry responded with a multimillion dollar public relations campaign.

Yet despite spending millions to influence the media, and millions more to prevent laws requiring labels on products the industry claims are safe, Monsanto has lost the hearts and minds of consumers. The latest polls show that 93 percent of Americans support mandatory labeling of GMO foods.

Chipotle has made a sound business decision, which has forced the biotech industry to stoop to a new low: vilifying businesses.

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McDonald’s Announces Corporate Shake-Up, Workers Vow To Rise Up

On the same day that McDonald’s CEO Steve Easterbrook announced sweeping changes aimed at “returning excitement” to the behemoth—and struggling—fast-food chain, thousands of McDonald’s cooks and cashiers vowed to descend on the the company’s annual shareholder meeting in Illinois later this month to demand higher wages, fairer treatment, and the right to organize.

“We may not have a seat in the room, but we’re sure that McDonald’s will hear us when we say that its turnaround needs to include investment in and respect for its employees,” saidAdriana Alvarez, who has worked at McDonald’s for five years, and was one of 101 workers arrested at a peaceful sit-in at last year’s shareholder meeting. Her story is common among McDonald’s employees, tens of thousands of whom have taken to the streets to protest poverty wages in recent fast-food strikes and walk-outs.

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Protests Hit McDonald’s In Los Angeles, Nationwide

Labor organizers displeased with McDonald’s Corp.’s decision to raise wages only for workers at company-owned stores, leaving out employees at franchises, held protests across the nation Thursday.

Planners said that workers in dozens of cities — including Los Angeles, New York, Detroit and Las Vegas — rallied to criticize what some called a disingenuous strategy from the fast-food giant, based in Oak Brook, Ill.

At a protest at a Wilshire Boulevard McDonald’s, Jibri Range, 22, said his repeated requests to be paid more than $9 an hour at a South-Central franchise restaurant have all been rejected or ignored.

He said he works four hours a week as a McDonald’s maintenance employee and relies on his mother, a full-time cafeteria worker, to help support him. His daughter will turn 4 on April 15, when fellow workers protest again, he said.

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USDA Approves ‘Untested, Inherently Risky’ GMO Apple

On Friday, February 13, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) approved the first genetically engineered apple, despite hundreds of thousands of petitions asking the USDA to reject it. In April 2013, we interviewed scientists about the genetic engineering technology used to create the Arctic Apple, whose only claim to fame is that it doesn’t turn brown when sliced. The benefit to consumers? Being able to eat apples without having any sense of how old they are?

Here’s what we learned about the technology, called RNA interference, or double strand RNA (dsRNA), from Professor Jack Heinemann (University of Canterbury, New Zealand), Sarah Agapito-Tenfen (from Santa Catarina University in Brazil) and Judy Carman (Flinders University in South Australia), all of whom said that dsRNA manipulation is untested, and therefore inherently risky. . .

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How 13 Complaints Against McDonald’s Could Help Millions Unionize

The law is catching up with Ronald McDonald.

On Friday, the National Labor Relations Board issued 13 complaints involving 78 charges by workers that McDonald’s USA, LLC, and many of its franchisees broke the law by interfering with collective efforts to organize and improve working conditions.

The complaints will now go to trial before administrative law judges , who could, for the first time, find McDonald’s guilty of violating workers’ right to organize. Until now, McDonald’s has shielded itself from liability by claiming that it’s not an actual employer. Franchisors argue that although they provide the brand name, products, techniques and other operational necessities, they leave franchisees the discretion to operate as sole employer, responsible for all labor costs, risks and obligations.

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McDonald’s Just Got Hit With Multiple Labor Law Violations

Today, the National Labor Relations Board’s chief prosecutor, General Counsel Richard Griffin, jointly charged McDonald’s and several of its franchisees with multiple violations of federal labor law. According to the NLRB’s press release, the agency will pursue 13 complaints involving 78 charges of alleged wrongdoing, while 71 cases remain under investigation.

The General Counsel’s decision to treat McDonald’s (the parent corporation) and its franchisees as joint employers means that McDonald’s workers will finally have an opportunity to hold their real boss accountable. That’s a big deal. We know McDonald’s sets rigorous operating standards for its franchisees, from menus, to uniforms, to employment practices. And we know that they monitor and enforce those standards at the corporate level.

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