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Without Grease, the U.S. Would Be Greece

NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- The food industry -- fast, slow, greasy or otherwise -- is one of the largest in the world, and one nobody talks about. Much like the housing market with its trickle-down effect, the food industry has many facets that usually aren't considered by everyday consumers.

Admittedly, it's easy to do. When you bite into a sandwich or cook a nice dinner, you rarely stop and think, I wonder what chain of events led to this food being in my kitchen?

Let's forget for a moment that food is a necessity, unlike many other things such as cars, computers or furniture. While we could get by with rice and potatoes, our country loves food.

In a recent study conducted by Kraft Foods Group (KRFT), 57% of Americans would "go to some length" to keep cheese in their diets.

"Go to some length" included 36% of respondents giving up their cell phones for a week, 23% turning off the TV for a month and 39% giving up coffee for a year.

Just because it's a necessity, doesn't mean we Americans don't embellish it. That latte from Starbucks (SBUX) or donut from Krispy Kreme Doughnuts (KKD) is half the reason some of us get up in the morning.

I used to think housing had the biggest trickle-down effect, where perhaps 100 people were needed for a certain product to reach just one person.

Housing is easy to understand: Someone digs up the land, pours in the foundation, frames the house, tons of different tradesmen do their individual job to finish the project, then voila! The house gets sold by a realtor (another job) to a family.

Food is similar and just as vital to our economy. Think about it.

You sit down at a Darden Restaurants (DRI) location, such as Red Lobster or Olive Garden. You order a steak with corn on the cob, mashed potatoes and for seasonality purposes, an Octoberfest from Boston Beer (SAM - Get Report).

Pretty standard meal -- but where did it all come from?

Let's start with the side dishes. For all intents and purposes, we can assume two different farmers were required to plant the corn and the potatoes.
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