This last one was the hardest of the 3 parts to write for me, but hopefully it will still be worth the read.
Within the United States we have a few big agencies that are supposed to look after the safety of our food, one being the USDA Food and Safety Inspection team. According to the FSIS website
their mission statement is as follows “is the public health agency in the U.S. Department of Agriculture that is responsible for the nation’s commercial supply of meat, poultry , and egg products is safe, wholesome, and correctly labeled and packaged.” Another organization that is concerned with food safety is the CDC, Centers for Disease
Control and Prevention, whose job is track single cases of food borne illnesses and also investigates outbreaks.
(CDC) According to the CDC website, the current food safety challenges are changes in our food production
and supply, changes in the environment leading to food contamination, the rising number of multistate outbreaks, new and emerging germs, toxins and antibiotic resistance and finally new and different contaminated foods that are causing
illness such as peanut butter or bagged raw spinach. In 2011, President Obama passed into law the FDA Food Safety
Modernization Act. This, according to the FDA website, is the most sweeping reform in more than 70
years. The act gives them new and enhanced mandates and authorities to protect consumers and promote public
According to Wikipedia, all of this “regulation” made its way into the United States in 1906 with the Pure food and Drug Act. However this was not found to be very effective and President Roosevelt revised the act in 1937 with the Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act which has given the government license to act in the food, agricultural and drug
markets. Yet despite this regulation, we still have many outbreaks of e.coli and other various diseases
that occur across the country. In the movie Food Inc., we are shown some of the conditions of how animals are raised. The animals live in inhumane conditions, tight quarters barely having room to move, are left ankle deep in wastes from all the cows in the lot, and no access to green grass. Run off from their wastes can and do contaminate nearby farms with a host of diseases and infections that then get passed onto the American public. Also, on the cows
themself at the slaughterhouses, their hides are covered in mud and waste. The likelihood of the animal being contaminated with e coli is extremely high and with the fact that now there are only 13 slaughterhouses in the United States which process all the meat for our country. That meat is packaged and parts of multiple cows can be found in one package of meat. This makes it very hard to really find the source of an e coli outbreak and if there is an outbreak and you can trace it, then food across the country would have to be recalled.
The meat packing industry is notoriously known for hiring undocumented workers. (Food
Inc.) These workers are not going to protest the working conditions as they risk losing their job or being unable
to stay in the country if turned in. Meat packing companies such as IBP, Monford and National Beef advertise
their jobs in Mexico but then they have deals in which they turn in so many workers per day and people that have been processing the meat are then turned in and handled as a criminal while nothing happens to the business and/or people who hired them. Being a meat packer used to be one of the best jobs in the U.S. with great benefits and great pay, now they do what they can to pay the least amount of dollars that they can and the manner in which they are run puts the workers’ health in danger.
Also with the rise of regulation in the 1930s came the processing of more foods and also fast food restaurants. The foods that are being sold inexpensively are those that are heavily subsidized by the government –the
commodity crop. Soy and corn are heavily subsidized and the farmers are able to operate even at a loss. Soy and corn are then put into nearly every processed food that is in the processed foods at the market. You can get away from this some buy purchasing foods from the natural markets. If the government would subsidize the organic market for fruits, vegetables, and meats then perhaps people would be able to have access to higher quality foods and those that are poor would not be stuck with only purchasing low quality foods which have caused an increase in poor health, diabetes and obesity.
According to the movie Food Inc., those that are in charge of regulating our food industries are also those that are in bed with the food industries that they are supposed to be regulating. How can we be sure that our food is being regulated properly when those that are in charge of doing the regulating also have vested interests in making
sure that their foods are successful?
We as the consumer are not allowed to what is in our food or happening with our food. The big industries fight tooth and nail against this happening. They fought against labeling calories in fast foods, trans fats, or knowing what
country the food came from, and now they are fighting against the labeling of GMO products or products that have been cloned. They do not want for us to know what is going into our foods. They do not want for the consumers to be able to make informed choices. They do not want us to know how our food has been treated. They are worried about making a profit and control. By subsidizing the grains the way they have in the United States has made it so other countries are not able to afford to grow their own grains due to the lack of subsidies that are happening in other countries. There has been an increase in antibiotic resistance in people due to the fact that the animals are being fed antibiotics. The companies package their meat up in neat little packages; removing the bones and making it look as nice as possible
so people do not think about how this actually came to their table. They have created a system for people to have the food come to them and so many do not wonder where or how this food came to them. The companies with the big dollar have the power, control and the money. There are a few big businesses that are controlling all of the crops and meat industry. This seems to me that the industry has put a few in power and has systematically been wiping out the little farmers in an effort to get rid of their competition. Who is being served? It is certainly not the consumers. It seems the one being protected is the industries.
One movement that is out there is the sustainable living movement. According to Wikipedia, sustainable living is defined as “a lifestyle that attempts to reduce an individual’s or society’s use of the Earth’s natural resources and his/her own resources.” People that try to live by this often attempt to reduce their carbon foot print by changing the way they eat, how they travel, what types of energy they use, and how they eat. These are all changes that will make their lives overall more sustainable and in a respectful and a natural balance with the Earth and its resources. Various ideas within this movement are growing your own food, or buying local and organic, and eating seasonally. It can also carry into homes – what they are made from, insulation, and having sustainable power sources. When it comes to diet many will change to vegetarian or vegan diets because the industrial meat industry “has high environmental costs such as land degradation, soil erosion, and depletion of natural resources, especially pertaining to water and food.” (Wikipedia) Those that choose to still eat meat will buy local, organic and pasture fed. Another way they try to change the world is by purchasing organic products and/or growing their own gardens.
My opinion is that it is sad what our food industry has come down to – that we subsidize those industries that are going into junk food and thus helping to increase the epidemic of obesity and not subsidizing fresh produce. That we support industrialized ways of growing animals and have moved away from that which is natural and the way that animals were meant to be raised. It is also sad that we have to FIGHT to try to have the right to know what is in our food. I am a huge proponent of getting GMOs labeled. I have boycotted the industries that are supporting the movement to not
label. I have let the companies know that I am no longer buying their products and for what reason. I have asked my family and friends to do the same. We no longer buy some foods that we were previously enjoying such as
Cascadian farms fruits and vegetables. Even the foods within the natural foods are not safe because they have
been bought out by larger companies. Our seeds are not safe. Monsanto is making patents on life! Farmers try to fight yet they cannot win, Monsanto has bunches of money while smaller farmers do not. They end up going under because of not being able to battle with the large companies. In society as a whole, the poor do the best they can but when the food that is cheap is the food that is essentially junk it is no wonder that obesity levels are rising and that health is
declining. It is expensive to try to do the right thing. Not only do many not have access to money to buy healthy foods but many do not have the education to know what is healthy and what is not. We are hit with so many advertisements on TV and movies, but how many do we see for fresh fruits and vegetables. Money talks and that is what is happening in the food industry, money talks. The way we as a people can help to change this is, if we can, vote with our dollars.
With every dollar that we spend we are telling the industry what kinds of food we want. The way to be the change in the world is through education, supporting the things that align with our moral and ethical standards and also supporting our local farmers and farmers markets. For each person that makes a change, it will make a difference in what happens in the long