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A Letter that all Parents (and Anyone Who Eats) Need to Read


Last week, Mark Bittman had a post that included a letter from George Faison, a well established meat supplier, to a well known NYC chef regarding our badly broken food supply system.  We think the message is so important, that we’ve reposted the beginning of it here. (You can read the rest, and the comments it provoked, at

Substitute the word “parent” for chef, “home” for restaurant and “child” for client and you’ll catch our drift:

“This note explains my thinking about why I believe that you should be pursuing clean agricultural ingredients as standard practice in your restaurants.

Our food supply system is broken. Badly. 80 percent of the U.S. beef production is controlled by four industrially producing companies. Three of these companies also process 60 percent of the nation’s pork. Too much chemical fertilizer and pesticides are used to produce our crops. The variety of crops produced around the world has diminished dramatically in the last 60 years. There are now nearly 5,000,000 fewer American farmers since the 1930s.

Yes, this industrial structure has significantly lowered the monetary cost of the food we consume. But this is misleading. While the amount of money we spend on food has declined, the quality and nutrition supplied by this food has deteriorated. As a country, about one third of all adults are obese, and since 1980, the incidence of obesity has tripled among children ages 2-19.

In 1960, we spent 18 percent of our take home pay on food and 5 percent on health care. Now we spend 9 percent of our take home pay on food and upwards of 17 percent on health care. According to Michael Pollan, during his Oprah interview in February, “We spend less of our money on food than any other people at any other time on this earth.” What’s wrong with this picture?

People have gotten used to eating cheap food and it is killing them. There is little flavor and little nutrition and we eat more and more, because so much of it has been engineered to trigger consumption (salt and sugar have been proven to be addictive, like nicotine in cigarettes).”

Read the full letter at


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