When I lived briefly in North Carolina and Wisconsin, I worked as a farm hand and fruit picker in some very prolific farming communities. I worked alongside Amish, immigrants, and high-end industrial farmers and made a point to jot down notes every day from my conversations and observations. A few years later, I came across my old notes, and rearranged them into a longer stream-of-consciousness specifically about the Dairy-Industrial-Complex; a configuration of all the players involved in dairy production. The poem has no conclusion or clear ending; it is merely a commentary on the deterioration of health and food production for profit. This type of Industrial-Complex shows the absolute necessity for the complete unity of class struggle and ecological struggle.
In the Industrial-Complex, the global domino effect, in a global competition for greater profit, imported milk is condensed, canned, and distributed without charge to the poor countries of Mali, Niger, and Yap. The canned milk, though labeled “Nor forSale” in English, is sold in the local markets.
The amount of canned milk for sale worldwide depends on the economic conditions in North America, Europe and the South Pacific.
It depends on how much milk Nestle, Hershey or Kraft buys for their annual production and on the fluctuating value of the dollar, yen or Euro, which maintains its colonial ties to the CEFA in West Africa.
It depends on the consumption of milk in the rich countries; how hot the summer is and how much ice cream people eat.
It depends on the world’s annual yield of soybeans, one of the major competitors of milk products.
It depends on the consumption of corn for ethanol, for cow feed, for high fructose corn syrup.
It depends on Michelle Obama’s “War on Obesity” and the Department of Health’s concern for any diseases in raw milk.
It depends on the black market of raw dairy products, the costs of middle men, transportation costs and the popularity of whole foods stores.
It depends on the dairy subsidies and foreign aid appropriations made by U.S. congress; the food policies of the United Nations high commissioner for earthquake victims in Haiti and Pakistan; and the mercurial aid programs of religious and other private charitable organizations all over the world.
In the beginning, it started with the small farmer, bought out by a factory farm. The crops are then rotated annually- three years soy beans, one year corn, and again. The sprays; the pesticides.
It started with the land purchase. Forty acres and 30,000 cows, all walking around in their own feces; milking machines; tasers; small, confined spaces.
It started when the soil depletes and the factory farm moves to a different area. When a corporate hustler gives a high five to a politician who sells out their state’s land for a competitive profit.
And in the end, it changes the nature of the landscape, the culture of the towns, the priorities of local governments, monopolization of local economies. We see Walmart, green-washing, and cancer. The soil is sick and it runs off into the water. The people are sick and rush to Walgreens for prescriptions. The plants are sick- tomato and cucumber blight.
It ends with cultural phobias- bacteria is harmful and must be eliminated. Adding chemicals, taking out proteins, homogenization, pasteurization, skim, fat free; a culture of fat phobias.
When we get back to canned milk in Mali, we see advertisement. When Nestle suffers, they tell mothers that breast feeding is unhealthy. So buy our powdered milk products for life longevity, for child’s health!
A suffered profit perpetuates the war on the Global South, the class struggle, the prioritization of profit over decent milk in elementary schools, over growing cancer cells, over fractured communities, and brainwashed understandings of health.