SYSCO is a major corporation that serves the "food prepared away from home"* crowd, which includes, but is not limited to, restaurants.

The range of products provided by SYSCO and it's subsidiaries, of which there are 127 companies, include 275,000 products and services to more than 350,000 restaurants, schools, healthcare, lodging facilities business and industry locations and other foodservice operations. In 2001, SYSCO had sales of USD 21,784,497,000 and net profits of USD 596,909,000, a 12.8% increase over the year 2000. SYSCO employs 34,000 people in North America, and is headed by CEO Charles H. Cotros, who received in 2001 USD 4,455,010 in remuneration for his services.

Obviously, SYSCO is big business. The downside of their corporate success is the homogenization of the North American dining experience to the point that no matter which restaurant you patronize, it's SYSCO that's cooking dinner. Most restaurants rely heavily on SYSCO to provide frozen items like chicken breasts, fish or whatever, as well as staples like ketchup and mustard. Many restaurants derive their entire menus from the ordering catalog provided by the friendly neighborhood SYSCO distributor.

This is leading to a culinary disaster. SYSCO is the Wal-Mart of food service, without the competition. What it means for the average consumer is that dining choice is constrained not to the wonderful array of ethnic delight to which North America should rightfully lay claim, but rather to the whims of one company interested, as it should be, in it's economic well-being over food as an experience.

If you wish to resist this trend, ask your server if the dish you are considering was made by Chef SYSCO. Frequent small establishments that prepare their own food, and for the love of Pete, care about what you eat.

*This fact, and those below, are derived from public corporate earnings statements.

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