Agri-Business Exposed II (Cargill Part II)

agribizindexFollowing in the foodsteps of the Packaged Foods Exposed series, the Agri-Business Exposed series will explore the major agricultural companies whose names are rarely heard by the eating public.

The ingredients entering into the staples of our diet rarely, if ever, originate from the company that produced the final product. Behind the KraftsNestlesCoca-Colas and Pizza Huts of the world, are the large corporations that deal with the most important person in the process; the farmer.

The Cargill Exposé
It is fitting to launch this series by exploring the most influential and powerful agri-business in the world; Cargill. As one of the largest private companies in the world, Cargill‘s $75.2 billion in sales employs 149,000 people in 63 countries. But the Minnesota-based company utilizes a strategy that situates much of their presence behind the scenes, and upon addressing the scope of this company’s influence, their operations and products make their sales figures and employment statistics close to meaningless. Cargill sets the stage for agriculture and food around the world, and a better understanding of this company, is a better understanding of our dinners.

On this Part II of the Cargill Exposé, we tackle topics of child slave labour in the West African cocoa industry, we raise questions over how Cargill’s High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS) has played a role in the global obesity and diabetes epidemics, and we discover how the company was able to arrive in Canada in 1989, and now assume 50% control of Canada’s beef.

Guests for Part II of the 2-part Cargill Exposé

Cam OstercampPresidentBeef Initiative Group Canada (B.I.G.) (Blackie, AB) – The organization was formed in 2004 to be a voice for primary producers of beef in Canada. As Cargill is the most influential company in the Canadian beef industry, Cam’s experience as both a farmer and President of B.I.G., provides him with a comprehensive background on the influence exercised by the company.

Brian CampbellStaff AttorneyInternational Labor Rights Fund (ILRF) (Washington, D.C.) – ILRF is an advocacy organization dedicated to achieving just and humane treatment for workers worldwide. The organization is currently targeting the child labour practices in the West African cocoa industry that company’s like Cargill are said to support. Brian Campbell began working with the ILRF as a law clerk in 2001 and was hired as a full time attorney upon graduation from law school in 2004.

Brewster KneenAuthor/PublisherThe Ram’s Horn (Ottawa, ON) – Brewster was born in Ohio and studied economics and theology in the U.S. and the U.K. before moving to Toronto in 1965. There he produced public affairs programs for CBC Radio, and worked as a consultant to the churches on issues of social and economic justice. In 1971, with his wife Cathleen and their children Jamie and Rebecca, he moved to Nova Scotia, where they farmed until 1986, starting with a cow-calf operation and then developing a large commercial sheep farm. When he stopped farming, he developed a devoted interest to learn more about Cargill than perhaps anyone has ever attempted. The second edition of his book “Invisible Giant” (2002), provides the most current and comprehensive source for any eater interested in learning more about the origins of our food.

Musical Selection (name/title/album/label)
Theme/Soundclip – Adham Shaikh, Infusion, Fusion, Sonic Turtle (CDN)
Soundbite – Nick Ayoub, Saphir, Ready or Not, Do it Right Music (CDN)
Soundbite – Bombay Dub Orchestra, Mumtaz, Bombay Dub Orchestra, Six Degrees Records