Conglomer-ATE: The Consolidation of American Food (Infographic)

Take a look at this infographic from the Frugal Dad team. I’ve said it a million times – you get what you pay for, and cheap food is no exception. The amount of consolidation in the industry is shocking, and it’s not getting better any time soon.

If you’ve been following the news, you know that Big Food successfully lobbied this week to have pizza sauce considered a vegetable under school lunch rules. The industry also managed to block most of the nutritional changes that to school lunches that doctors and dieticians had been recommending for years, virtually guaranteeing that America’s schools will continue to serve processed, unhealthy garbage to our children. If you didn’t know that Big Food wields disproportionate influence in America today, reading this infographic will be a great wakeup call.

Oh, and don’t blame me if your Turkey doesn’t taste quite as good on Thursday…


  1. LOVE LOVE LOVE it. I always hate it when people complain about the chemicals & antibiotics in food and then say that we need more gov’t regulation to fix the problem. People are handing the responsibility of their food over to a corporation who’s goal is to make $$$ then they wonder why the product is crap and think they have a right to complain about it. These corporations pay politicians billions to keep legislation in their favor.

    If you want it done right do it yourself or buy from a small producer that does it right!

    • Interesting, even with the graphics, most will not recognize that the problem is grain and grain fed meats with chicken consumption at the top, in lockstep with increases in all the ills of our societies. A return to predominately pastoral mixed agriculture is the real solution to all our ills including climate change mitigation, natural carbon re-cycling by use of the ruminant. e.g. A bovine stocking rate of N/America at less than 1 in 6 that of India or 1 in 5 that of UK would feed an extra billion people here alone. A return to consumption levels of 50 years ago would return soil carbon and reduce atmospheric by at least 100million tons annually. It takes roughly 7 years of grassland or fallow to replace the fertility trucked off by one year of grain for chicken etc. We cannot sustain fossil fuel farming but good land can be improved by judicious use of the cloven hoof ruminant to the healthy benefit of all.

      • To intimate that the corn used for ethanol production would feed the world’s multitudes is disingenuous at best. Ethanol depleted corn goes right back into the food chain as cattle fodder. At least here in New Mexico it does. That corn is further not “human” corn , rather field corn which is grown for cattle feed to start with.

        As to the wisdom of feeding corn to beef herds, I must agree with Mr grassfedbeefeater. Where we live we have the luxury of buying beeves off grass before they go to the feedlot. One steer lasts the two of us about two years, and we find it better tasting and leaner. Of course for those in a more urban setting, that is not an option, and purchase of grass fed beef is quite expensive.

        The paradox is that healthy food is priced out of the market of most, but the only thing allowing the average person to afford food is the fact that is has been mucked about by chemical engineers.

        Oh well, all gonna die someday…

  2. While it really never changes the food habits when we see these things it does make us think…Thanks for putting this all together

  3. Interesting info but the the second sentence in the first paragraph casts a doubt on the accuracy of information.
    “This Thanksgiving, 221,000,000 pounds of turkey – 30% of all Turkeys consumed in the US – will come from Butterball……”
    Does it mean that during Thanksgiving, a total of 736,000,000 pounds of turkey will be consumed in the US? This number includes the other 70% of turkeys which presumably will not come from Butterball. Now, knowing that that the total US population is about 311,000,000, that would amount to each person in the US consuming more than 2 pounds of turkey during Thanksgiving…highly unlikely.

  4. Oh dear, statistics are a dangerous source of information.
    Two pounds of turkey ‘at thanksgiving’ is not ‘highly unlikely’. The total figure represents the total volume bought, not consumed. Some eaten on the day, some consumed the next day, some frozen for later …some given to the pets.
    Antibiotics originally were used to kill the bacteria that became a bigger threat when large numbers of birds were housed in big barns.
    The treatment also killed other bacteria in the birds gut that were sharing the food intake so there was more left for the bird. Result was less feed needed to put weight on the bird…and this has raised the issues of developing antibiotic resistance. Good for farmers profits…bad for human health.
    BUT stop doing it and the costs can rocket. Your meat will cost you perhaps two times what it costs now. No problem for those in work, but those not working or on low pay may have to go without… the ‘cost’ increases as the welfare bill gets bigger……the middle class do-gooders should beware of unintended consequences.
    BUT the cost of healthcare also rises because new antibiotics have to be developed and paid for……Oh what a complicated world we live in!

  5. WRT to the asteroid comment: I’m sure that you (or the original source of the graphic) meant LAST century (20th). Was this the Tunguska event?

  6. I love image based blog posts like these as they give an excellent overview at a glance. I’d never have thought that chicken was produced more than pork

  7. Excellent Graphic. I would change Nestles from Chocolate (which US seems to think of them as) to baby formula/milk/ coffee – which is what their main base is.

  8. I buy local as much as possible, from small farmers and ranchers nearby. It supports my local economy and also doesn’t support factory farming.

  9. I have been learning alot about our food this past year. This is fantastic…thank you for giving me a visual. My husband passed this to me, and I will to many others…thank you for allowing me to spread the word. I would never tell others how to live their lives…but I cut animal out of my diet, and dairy and most meat from my family…and we have not been to the doc nearly as much! Asthma, allergies and other ailments seem to have subsided! If you must eat meat and dairy…buy those that are organic…and antibiotic free! Our country is getting sicker and sicker as well as fatter and fatter~and I am a believer it is our food and the fact that we can find fast food on every corner of our communities, it is terrible!!

  10. “Your meat will cost you perhaps two times what it costs now. No problem for those in work, but those not working or on low pay may have to go without… the ‘cost’ increases as the welfare bill gets bigger……the middle class do-gooders should beware of unintended consequences.”

    OMG are you freakin’ serious? Boohoohoo and cry me a river! The world will not end and you will not die if you have to consume meat 50% fewer times, or even not at all. If anything this article just solidified my belief even more that I should eat no meat at all. Disclosure: I already trend vegetarian almost all the time.

  11. Nice information… I have been learning a lot about our food this past year. It looks so interesting when you see this kind of data in illustrated form. Great infographic. I’d never know that we produce more chicken than pork.

  12. I agree with everything you said except that you failed to mention that somewhere in the neighborhood of 85% of American grown corn is genetically modified. Would it feed starving people? Sure. Would they be healthy? No.

  13. I cannot read the citations/ sources in the footnote. Can you make them live links within the graphics? Or, post them separately? Particularly interested in “35 lbs of antibiotics consumed” data. Thank you.

  14. I love the infographics but could you please avoid the very small fonts? I know I can zoom in, but when everything else on the page is already easily legible at 100%, I typically don’t, and end up squinting.

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