Foodopoly: The Battle over the Future of Food and Farming in America

Wenonah Hauter, Author
Wenonah Hauter. New Press (Perseus, dist.), $26.95 (342p) ISBN 978-1-59558-790-9
Reviewed on: 10/01/2012
Release date: 12/01/2012
Paperback - 355 pages - 978-1-59558-978-1
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In a meticulously researched tour de force, Hauter, the executive director of Food & Water Watch, examines the pernicious effects of consolidation in every sector of the food industry. Not only has deregulation and the weakening of antitrust laws led to a significant reduction of competition, it has failed to allow the consumer to benefit from the economies of scale achieved by larger production facilities. More dangerous for our democracy, Hauter argues, the surviving firms have used their wealth to capture the political system in order to rewrite the regulations for their benefit. They have persuaded governments to subsidize their irrigation costs with publicly funded water projects; successfully pushed for the enactment of the Cuban sugar tariff, which directly led to high-fructose corn syrup becoming the sweetener of choice; and weakened oversight by federal bureaucracies, preventing the FDA from testing meat for contamination before and during processing. In fact, Hauter suggests, the FDA is no longer capable of enforcing its regulations at all and must resort to persuasion and, at times, begging. Though alarming, Hauter’s argument is undermined by her resort to the suggestion of conspiracy on occasion. Overall, though, the book deserves a place on the shelf beside the burgeoning journalistic explorations of the dangers of the current system. (Dec.)
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