Diet for a Dead Planet: How the Food Industry is Killing Us

By Christopher D. Cook. <I>New Press</I>. $24.95.

For indispensable reporting on the coronavirus crisis, the election, and more, subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily newsletter.


Just looking at its putrescent manure-green dust jacket, it’s clear that Diet for a Dead Planet isn’t light fare. Inside, Christopher Cook lays out a far-reaching takedown of the American food industry, from factory farms to supermarkets to federal regulators. Dead Planet further explores the stomach-churning realm described by Eric Schlosser and others, where a corporate oligarchy increasingly controls our food from farm to grocery shelf, to the detriment of our health and the environment.

Cook takes a disturbing look at the food-borne bacteria that kill thousands of Americans each year and are becoming more resilient thanks to the meat industry’s addiction to antibiotics. He shows us corporate lawyers menacing a rural African American woman in her 90s for complaining about a giant hog farm. (“We will ask the court to put you in prison,” they write in a cease-and-desist letter.) Cook also investigates how supermarket chains shake down food producers for kickbacks called “slotting fees” that can run into the millions of dollars and effectively keep small or independent food producers off the shelves. (Eliot Spitzer, where are you?)

If Cook sees some glimmers of hope in the upsurge of community gardening and the organics movement, he has some grim predictions here, too. As “natural” foods become more lucrative, they risk getting sucked into the machine, becoming just another offering in the “corporate cornucopia.”

DEMOCRACY DOES NOT EXIST...

without free and fair elections, a vigorous free press, and engaged citizens to reclaim power from those who abuse it.

In this election year unlike any other—against a backdrop of a pandemic, an economic crisis, racial reckoning, and so much daily crazy—Mother Jones' journalism is driven by one simple question: Will America will move closer to, or further from, justice and equity in the years to come?

If you're able to, please join us in this mission with a donation today. Our reporting right now is focused on voting rights and election security, corruption, disinformation, racial and gender equity, and the climate crisis. We can’t do it without the support of readers like you, and we need to give it everything we've got between now and November. Thank you.

DEMOCRACY DOES NOT EXIST...

without free and fair elections, a vigorous free press, and engaged citizens to reclaim power from those who abuse it.

In this election year unlike any other—against a backdrop of a pandemic, an economic crisis, racial reckoning, and so much daily crazy—Mother Jones' journalism is driven by one simple question: Will America will move closer to, or further from, justice and equity in the years to come?

If you're able to, please join us in this mission with a donation today. Our reporting right now is focused on voting rights and election security, corruption, disinformation, racial and gender equity, and the climate crisis. We can’t do it without the support of readers like you, and we need to give it everything we've got between now and November. Thank you.

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our newsletters

Subscribe and we'll send Mother Jones straight to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate