Volume 11, Number 6                                   December 17, 2007

The Farmer


The Convenience of Death

by Dr. Ridgely Abdul Mu’min Muhammad


The Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan has declared that Black people in America have made a "covenant with death." He states, "We have already made an agreement with hell and that is why hell is in our lives. We have made an agreement with death and that is why death is in our communities."

But how and why would a people make a "covenant with death"? The Honorable Elijah Muhammad says in his book, "How to Eat to Live", that what we eat keeps us on the planet, and what we eat could destroy our lives. He also taught 30 years ago that there was little pure food on the market. He also said that soon there would be "no pure food" on the market.

Today, books like "Fast Food Nation", "Murder by Injection", "Seeds of Deception" and "The Slow Poisoning of America" bare witness to these words spoken thirty years ago. Thirty years ago Black people were the healthiest people in America. Today they suffer from the greatest number of illnesses most of which can be linked to lifestyle choices, food being the primary culprit.

If you have seen the movie "Supersize Me" and you are still a loyal and frequent customer of Murder King, MacDeath, Sintucky Fried Chicken, Lurches Fried Chicken, Wind Dies, Pizza Gut, Awful House, White Casket, Heart Dies and Bo is Still Hanging, you have made a covenant with death. If you are still a part of the American dreamers who spend billions of dollars on Fast Foods, you have made a covenant with death. If you are addicted to diet sodas, sodas sweetened with high fructose corn syrup, soy bean products and micro-waved TV dinners, then you are on the fast track to the grave.

According to some 1999 data found in a book entitled "Fast Food Nation", Americans spend over $110 billion on fast foods. This is more than they spend on new cars, higher education, personal computers, newspapers, records or movies.

In 1980 the farmer received an aggregate of about $81.7 billion of the consumers’ food bill of $182.7 billion. However, by 1998 the consumer was spending $465.8 billion on food while the farmer's portion of that bill was only $118.8 billion. In other words whereas the farmer received close to half of the consumer's total food expenditures in 1980, by 1998 he received less than one forth of the consumer's food bill.

Where’s the money? Who is getting the bulk of your food dollar? Answer, the processors, distributors, restaurants and retail stores are getting the bulk of the consumer's food bill. In other words the consumer is not necessarily eating more farm products, but more processed and precooked food from the "merchants of death" that add in chemicals to enhance the taste or hide the fact that the food lacks substance.

To hide the poor quality of the food they add ingredients like monosodium glutamate (MSG) to trick the body. MSG is the sodium salt of the amino acid, glutamic acid, and a form of glutamate. It is sold as a fine white crystal substance, similar in appearance to salt or sugar. It does not have a distinct taste of its own, and how it adds flavor to other foods is not fully understood. Many scientists believe that MSG stimulates glutamate receptors in the tongue to augment meat-like flavors.

So MSG makes food taste good, but that same food may not provide proper nutrition to our cells. Therefore, our cells are still hungry and tell our brains that we need more food. We therefore continue to eat more and get fat.

According to "The Slow Poisoning of America", MSG is in almost every processed food including: potato chips, wieners, canned pastas, vegetable juice, salad dressing, frozen entrees, seasoned mix, soy sauce, bouillon cubes, nachos, bologna, canned chili, dried sour mix, frozen cured meats, frozen diet entrees, cheese puffs, ice cream, pasta helpers, flavored crackers, canned soup, ramen noodles, canned meats, frozen potatoes, gravy, jerky, sour cream and flavored rice.

MSG is extensively used in most of our fast food restaurants. So they keep you coming back for more junk. We like to call MSG the "nicotine of food" (smile).

Why did we turn away from cooking our food to now allowing others to cook for us? The answer is "convenience". And the need for such "convenience" is brought on by economic and social factors which now force the wife/mother to work outside the home. The reduction in real wages due to inflation plus the desire to live a middle class lifestyle has forced the wife/mother to take a job and the husband/father to work two jobs just to make "ends meet". Add to this the increase in the divorce rate which increases the number of cars and residents needed per person, we have the formula for a culture of running around trying to survive with no time to cook or even to sit down at the table as a family to eat a decent meal.

Now here comes the fast food industry to the rescue with the quick fix. It is interesting that in the 1960s Black people marched and staged "sit ins" to force white restaurants to allow Black people to sit at a lunch counter. Many of these same restaurants in fact did serve Black people through a slit in the back door which Black folks saw as demeaning. However, today Blacks do not have the time to sit and eat a meal, they now prefer the "back door" called the "drive-thru". How things have changed but still remain the same (smile)?

According to "Fast Food Nation" by Eric Schlosser, McDonalds is now the largest buyer of beef in America. She buys her beef from a few beef processing monsters that control the world’s supply of processed meats. Mr. Schlosser documents the fast food industry’s fight against any scientific testing of their beef for "E. coli" bacteria that has proven deadly to hundreds of Americans each year. Of course there are many "body parts" in the ground up beef that you don’t want to know about, but you should at least know if there are any E-coli.

Mr. Schlosser also points out that the "meat packing system that arose to supply the fast food chains...has proved to be an extremely efficient system for spreading disease." He further documents that it is easier to recall an automobile or a defective toy than tainted meat.

Obesity has also been directly related to the rise in fast food consumption. According to Mr. Schlosser, "severely obese American children, aged six to ten, are now dying from heart attacks caused by their weight." He states, that "between 1984 and 1993, the number of fast food restaurants in Great Britain roughly doubled - and so did the obesity rate among adults."

Now they have made death so "convenient" that no one dares to advocate the return to the "slavery" of the kitchen. So which will you choose, kitchen "slavery" or fast food death?