The objective of much of our industrial food system is to provide a profit to shareholders and CEOs. Coca-Cola’s advertising budget was over $2.9 billion dollars in 2010, money well spent from a stockholder’s point of view: profits that year were $11.8 billion.
The current system, however, was not built only to amass wealth. Many policymakers and supporters, historically as today, have been driven by the conviction that industrial agriculture is the best way to produce massive amounts of affordable food. And in some ways it has accomplished this. People in the U.S. spend relatively little on food – about 7 percent of their total spending, as compared to 13 percent in France, 23 percent in Mexico, and 38 percent in Vietnam. Most individuals in the U.S. devote less time, energy, and money to feeding ourselves than they ever have historically.