- Capitalism and Alternatives -

Good question!

Posted by: Samuel Day Fassbinder ( Citizens for Mustard Greens, USA ) on September 03, 1999 at 11:10:37:

In Reply to: How many things can you do with sugar and just one kind of grain? posted by Deep Dad Nine on September 02, 1999 at 11:22:52:

: DDN: The latter point seems rather redundant. How many things can you do with sugar and just one kind of grain? Probably only enough to support three mega companies.

SDF: Good point!

But this whole explanation only begs the question. Why is there just one grain pushing out the hundreds of other possibilities?

SDF: The price of grain, perhaps? If you can sell lots of high-priced sugar-laden cereal (Captain Crunch comes to mind) to lots of gullible children who watch your ads on advertising-laden Saturday morning cartoons, using cheap grain from the commodities markets, you can make enormous profits! The cheap grain, of course, is the grain the corporations produce in huge corporate monocrop farms! And, of course, if you can make enormous profits, you can expand your cereal business!

: Can't spelt be monocropped for example (not that I approve of monocropping)?

SDF: I don't really know, I thought that the reason they didn't grow monocrop spelt had something to do with the expense of planting, growing, and harvesting wheat, that, because of advances in agricultural technology, it has become cheaper to grow wheat than it is to grow spelt. Triticale, on the other hand, is a wheat-rye hybrid that grows well in cold climates, so it probably isn't in the markets because it has no name recognition (and can't be an ingredient in Captain Crunch anyway, as it has too much fiber).

: Wouldn't harvesting other grains be dicey as well and thus warrant goverment subsidies and emergency funds? Assuming that this market is driven by consumer choice, why do U.S. consumers only want a cereal made by one type of grain?

SDF: I thought markets were driven by corporate expectations of profit. Consumer choice only means something to a business if it expresses itself as a quantity of money to be forked over by consumers, and the more money, the better.

: And while we're harping on food, why are consumers fixated on one or two kinds of oranges and bananas? Don't they know that there are hundreds of varieties of these two fruits? Why don't they?

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