Adam Conover / Tuesday, January 8, 2019 9:00 am
In this episode, Adam dishes out the facts on the avocado trade being ruled by drug cartels, Big Pork making bacon a pop culture hit and the food problems stemming from corn. Here are his sources.
“In 2017, we imported 2.6 billion dollars worth of avocados, and almost all of them came from Mexico.”
Economic Research Service, U.S. Department of Agriculture. Fruit and Nut Tree Data: Data by Commodity - Imports and Exports. 2018.
“Mexican avocados were actually banned in the U.S. until a trade ban was lifted in 1994.”
Brook Larmer. “How the Avocado Became the Fruit of Global Trade.” The New York Times Magazine, 27 Mar 2018.
“America was eager to import cheap Mexican vegetables and export American staple crops, and Mexico was deep in debt. So we offered to bail them out, but to make the deal, we also demanded some BIG consequences.”
Carmen Boullosa and Mike Wallace. A Narco History: How the United States and Mexico Jointly Created the “Mexican Drug War.” OR Books, 2016.
“In 2006, the Mexican government and the American War on Drugs were both cracking down on the drug trade, so cartels were feeling pressure to diversify their interests.”
Violet Henderson. “The True Cost Of Our Avocado Obsession.” British Vogue, 8 Jul 2017.
“The cartels gained so much power over avocado farming, at one point they were taking 30% of Mexico’s avocado profits.”
Michael Lohmuller. “Massive Avocado Farm Extortion Highlights Mexico Vigilantes’ Cause.” InSight Crime, 8 Apr 2014.
“If avocado farmers don’t comply with their demands, the cartels are known to behead their victims, skin them and burn them alive, and even kidnap farmers’ children and send them back limb by limb.”
Matt Stieb. “Why Mexican Cartels Want in on the Food Business.” Munchies, 8 Apr 2016.
“Like so many American mistakes, the plan was conceived poolside in Orlando.”
David Sax. “The Bacon Boom Was Not An Accident.” Bloomberg, 6 Oct 2014.
“I’m gonna come up with a sandwich with grease dropping down their chin and we’ll see what they say.”
David Sax. “The Bacon Boom Was Not An Accident.” Bloomberg, 6 Oct 2014.
Clip from a Hardee’s ad.
Hardee’s, “Frisco Burger.” Commercial. 1992.
Clip from a Taco Bell ad.
FBC Chicago for Taco Bell. “Guys Love Bacon.” Commercial. 2008.
Clip from a Carl’s Jr. ad.
72andSunny for Carl’s Jr. “Bacon 3-Way Burger ‘Fantasy’ -extended edition.” Commercial. 2016.
“In 2008, 7 out of every million baby boys were named ‘Bacon.’”
“In 2015, the World Health Organization found overwhelming evidence that consuming processed meats like bacon increases your risk of cancer.”
“Q&A on the carcinogenicity of the consumption of red meat and processed meat.” International Agency for Research on Cancer, World Health Organization, Oct 2015.
“Even if you eat just 50 grams of processed meat per day, some estimates show your risk of colorectal cancer increases by nearly 20%!”
Bee Wilson. “Yes, bacon is really killing us.” The Guardian, 1 Mar 2018.
“Processed meats have also been linked to heart disease, obesity, and diabetes.”
Marion Tharrey, François Mariotti, Andrew Mashchak, Pierre Barbillon, Maud Delattre, Gary E Fraser. “Patterns of plant and animal protein intake are strongly associated with cardiovascular mortality: the Adventist Health Study-2 cohort.” International Journal of Epidemiology 47.5 (2018).
Morgan E. Levine, Jorge A. Suarez, Sebastian Brandhorst, Priya Balasubramanian, Chia-Wei Cheng, Federica Madia, Luigi Fontana, Mario G. Mirisola, Jaime Guevara-Aguirre, Junxiang Wan, Giuseppe Passarino, Brian K. Kennedy, Min Wei, Pinchas Cohen, Eileen M. Crimmins, Valter D. Longo. “Low Protein Intake Is Associated with a Major Reduction in IGF-1, Cancer, and Overall Mortality in the 65 and Younger but Not Older Population.” Cell Metabolism 19.3 (2014).
Wenpeng You, Maciej Henneberg. “Meat consumption providing a surplus energy in modern diet contributes to obesity prevalence: an ecological analysis.” BMC Nutrition 2.22 (2016).
“The meat industry has known since the 70s that their food poses serious health concerns.”
Marian Burros. “The Nitrite Question: What can you eat?” New York Times, 23 Dec 1981.
“In 1977, these guys were basically allowed to make their own LINE-EDITS to the US Dietary Guidelines.”
U.S. Government Printing Office. Hearings before the Select Committee on Nutrition and Human Needs of the Ninety-fifth Congress, First Session. 24 Mar 1977.
“When the U.S. as gearing up to release its 2015 Dietary Guidelines, Beef, Pork, and Poultry spent approximately $10.8 million in contributions to political campaigns, and another 6.9 million on lobbying.”
Deena Shanker. “The US meat industry’s wildly successful, 40-year crusade to keep its hold on the American diet.” Quartz, 22 Oct 2015.
“The average American consumes ONE TON of corn per year!”
Michael Pollan. The Omnivore’s Dilemma: A Natural History of Four Meals. Penguin Press, 2006.
“The government even paid farmers to grow less corn!”
Amelia Urry. “Our crazy farm subsidies, explained.” Grist, 20 Apr 2015.
“In 1971, Richard Nixon appointed agribusiness crony Earl “Rusty” Butz as his 2nd Secretary of Agriculture.”
Tom Philpott. “A reflection on the lasting legacy of 1970s USDA Secretary Earl Butz.” Grist, 8 Feb 2008.
“Pre-Butz, in 1970, we produced 4.1 billion bushels on corn.”
U.S. Department of Agriculture. “Crop Production: 1970 Annual Summary.” Statistical Reporting Service: Crop Reporting Board, 18 Dec 1970.
“By 2017, that number nearly quadrupled!”
National Agricultural Statistics Service, U.S. Department of Agriculture. “Corn Production, by Year, US.” 12 Jan 2018.
“Archer Daniels Midland, a major food processing company, had a vested interest in Butz’s corn surplus plan.”
Dan Carney. “Dwayne’s World.” Mother Jones, Jul/Aug 1995.
“Most livestock in this country are packed into cages in factory farms, and fed CORN all day long. That means there’s an unprecedented amount of unhealthy, corny meat in American diets.”
National Chicken Council. “US Chicken Consumption Remains at All-Time High, Growth Tempers Somewhat.” 18 Jul 2017.
“Each year, North Carolina’s pigs produce almost 10 billion gallons of feces and urine. That’s enough to fill 15,000 Olympic-size swimming pools!”
Christina Cook. “North Carolina’s Factory Farms Produce 15,000 Olympic Pools Worth of Waste Each Year.” Civil Eats, 28 Jun 2016.
“Over one third of methane emissions and more than half of nitrous oxide emissions come from farm animals’ digestive tracts!”
Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations. “Livestock’s Long Shadow: Environmental Issues and Options.” 2006.
"And it all has to go somewhere. Billions of gallons of cornfed poop is sprayed over fields as fertilizer, held in lagoons outside the CAFO that seep disease and heavy metals into groundwater, or just trucked away and dumped into rivers."
Richard Manning. “The Trouble with Iowa.” Harper’s, Feb 2016.
“The EPA has known for 11 years that CAFO emissions are most likely in violation of the Clean Air Act, but they’ve never held these big corporate farms accountable.”
Office of Inspector General, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Eleven Years After Agreement, EPA Has Not Developed Reliable Emission Estimation Methods to Determine Whether Animal Feeding Operations Comply With Clean Air Act and Other Statutes. 19 Sep 2017.
“A recent study found that $1 can buy 1,200 calories of chips and cookies, but only 250 calories of a whole food like carrots.”
Adam Drewnowski and S.E. Specter. “Poverty and obesity: the role of energy density and energy costs.” The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition 79.1 (2004).
For More On This Topic
For more information on how the Mexican drug cartels operate like international corporations, check out Narconomics by Tom Wainwright.
Bee Wilson’s piece for The Guardian truly gets into the nitty gritty of what bacon does to a body.
The documentary King Corn has an excellent interview with Rusty Butz, shortly before his death.