As Farm Bill subsidies have lowered prices of commodity crops over the past thirty years, the food industry has invested heavily in an infrastructure that turns cheap materials into highly profitable "value-added" products.
High-fructose corn syrup (HFCS), not even commercially concocted before the 1970s, has rapidly become one of the Farm Bill's industrial workhorses. A liquid sweetener with six times the potency and far cheaper than cane sugar, HFCS can also be used to prolong shelf-life, resist freezer burn, create an oven-toasted effect, and other processing functions. Over the past three decades, U.S. consumption of high-fructose corn syrup has jumped 1,000 percent. Soybeans are almost as versatile, providing a cheap and abundant source of added fats in the form of hydrogenated oils that have almost invisibly worked their way into the makeup of nearly every nonproduce item in the modern industrial diet. Dairy and meat products, made from livestock raised in confinement conditions and fed rapid weight-gaining diets of corn and soybeans are also high in unhealthy fats. The utility and commercial desirability of these ingredients is obvious. Out of nearly 15,000 new food products introduced each year, 75 percent are candies, condiments, breakfast cereals, baked goods, beverages, or dairy novelties.
Along the way the average U.S. citizen's daily food intake has ballooned to nearly 3,900 calories—almost twice the maximum recommended by U.S. health officials. This includes, on average, 32 teaspoons of added caloric sweeteners per day and as high as 1,800 calories in fats."
—Daniel Imhoff, Food Fight: The Citizen's Guide to a Food and Farm Bill (2007, Watershed Media)