Worldwide, 20% of all human calories come from wheat products. 50% of all calories come from the Big 3 grains: wheat, corn, and soy. Of all the food choices in the world, from mongongo nuts in western Africa, to seafood in coastal areas, to coconut in the South Pacific, the Big 3 grains now comprise half of the human diet.
At what other time in human history has such a situation occurred?
None. Just as we’ve never seen the likes of Honey Boo Boo take center stage on broadcast media before, there is NO evolutionary precedent for such a grain-based lifestyle. Not in the 1800s, not in the Middle Ages, not in the time of the Bible, not in pre-Biblical Rome, Greece, or Egypt, not during the transition from scavenging-hunting-gathering to agriculture, not 50,000 years ago, not 100,000 years ago, not during the appearance of the first Homo sapiens, not during the very first Homo species nor pre-human predecessors Australopithecus . . . NO species of hominids has EVER existed on a diet that looks like the modern human diet.
Our own USDA argues, via the Food Plate and Food Pyramid, that we should increase intake of grains further to comprise 60% of human calories. In other words, they suggest that, not only should we consume “healthy whole grains,” but that we should allow them to dominate diet.
Odd fact: The Big 3 grains that now dominate worldwide diets are also the recipients of most of the attention of geneticists to increase yield using techniques such as genetic modification (e.g., Bt toxin corn) and chemical mutagenesis, i.e., the intentional provocation of mutations (e.g., Clearfield wheat sold by BASF). Branded and patented forms of these monocrop grains therefore dominate the fields of farmers, who are also obliged (sometimes virtually forced) to purchase the herbicides or pesticides that specific strains are tied to, such as glyphosate-resistant corn that requires use of glyphosate, or imazamox-resistant wheat that requires imizamox. Note that these strains have to be purchased every season, disallowing (genetically or legally) a farmer from saving seed at the time of harvest to use next season (as traditional farmers did for thousands of years). Such seed strains essentially “lock” a farmer into repeated purchase of seed and the herbicide tied to it.
Compare this system with that of locally produced, small scale farming, in which small private operations with several dozen or several hundred heads of livestock or chickens, smaller plots of land to produce a variety of vegetables and fruit, many of them perennial. Scattered, independent food production is not amenable to centralized control.
What we have in our modern food system is a world increasingly dependent on monocultures of 3 grains, largely commanded by Big Agribusiness, that yields control over the producers (farmers) and the consumers (grain-eaters).
Is this a form of economic domination? Or is it just a response to the increasing demands of an overpopulated world?