Friday, January 13, 2012

Cheap food? High price

We keep talking about good food in class!

There's a way of problematizing our received idea of what good food is. Let's call it nutri/conomics, the intersection between nutrition habits and the profits of the food industry.*

 Check out this revealing article in TIME MAGAZINE about the kind of food we eat. It boils down to a thought experiment: Is it worth spending so many resources to raise animals for food, when doing so is more detrimental in the long run?

Somewhere in Iowa, a pig is being raised in a confined pen, packed in so tightly with other swine that their curly tails have been chopped off so they won't bite one another. To prevent him from getting sick in such close quarters, he is dosed with antibiotics. The waste produced by the pig and his thousands of pen mates on the factory farm where they live goes into manure lagoons that blanket neighboring communities with air pollution and a stomach-churning stench. He's fed on American corn that was grown with the help of government subsidies and millions of tons of chemical fertilizer. When the pig is slaughtered, at about 5 months of age, he'll become sausage or bacon that will sell cheap, feeding an American addiction to meat that has contributed to an obesity epidemic currently afflicting more than two-thirds of the population. And when the rains come, the excess fertilizer that coaxed so much corn from the ground will be washed into the Mississippi River and down into the Gulf of Mexico, where it will help kill fish for miles and miles around. That's the state of your bacon — circa 2009.

Through advertising, the BIG COMPANIES brainwash our appetite into consuming cheap food (by cheap I mean BAD). Can we do something about it? Modifying eating habits: improving our diets, making choices as to what and what not to eat, teaching our children the simple fact that a hamburger with fries and soda at McDonalds cannot become our lunch staple.
*By nutrition I mean the balance between our food habits and the environment. "Good nutrition" cannot transparently imply getting animal protein - as factory farming CEO's would like you to believe- above the environmental degradation of other fauna in the sea, land and rivers.   

I am closing this post next Thursday Jan. 19, @ 11pm.