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Food and Environment (Part Deux)!

2014 July 8
by Lindsay Kagalis

Sorry guys! I just got back from work, so here’s my discussion for the article “Excess consumption or over-production”.  To begin, I think this article takes a new spin on the rhetoric of obesity.  Within the first couple of paragraphs, we can see that many researchers have seemed to get the assumption wrong in the relationship between environmental issues and over-consumption from people.  Instead, as the article presents, the issues stem from excess production, particularly within wealthier nations.  With that said, do you agree with this claim?

 

Another major point within this article points to the masking of environmental degradation and food insecurity through blaming obesity for these issues instead of over-consumption within society.  It seems much easier for politicians to blame obesity for the problems in relation to food instead of highlighting their own mistakes and issues that have been caused by the way that food products have been processed and distributed.  We all also saw this within the Food Inc. film, which really opened my eyes to just how our food is being handled on a day to day basis and the potential harmful impacts it will have in the future on our society.  Guthman discusses how farmers tend to use intensification or extensification in order to remain in business because many times they are simply price-takers.  With extensification, farmers simply hope that using land that other farmers have lost will help to increase their profit.  On the other hand, intensification seemed to be the more dangerous yet more frequently used, where they use modifications on their crop to keep it growing strong, including pesticides, fertilizers, or completely genetically modified food products.  Tied in with this is a country’s concept of social wage, which includes having affordable food in order to keep a complacent labor force.

It was interesting to see that the problem of over-production can be argued to be linked to the United State’s view of expansionism, seen as early as the 1800’s Homestead Act.  We see that since the conception of farming within America, it has been continually commercialized more and more.  As Maggie has pointed out in my other post, what do you think the consequences will be if we do not change anything soon and just let the continuation of commercialization happen within the food industry?

This article takes a deep look into the history of farm policy within our country, showing all of the changes and continuations that have occurred within our society.  It does go hand in hand with the issues that were pointed our in Food Inc as well in regards to the production and distribution of food.  This is just one article that shows that the issue is not consumption but rather political.  I guess just a question to think about is how we can open up this type of discussion with others in order to show them that the issue is heavily held within the political realm?

I’m sorry if this post is a little confusing, I wanted to make sure I got a post up for this article as well, and I’m off to my second job! I look forward to hearing what you guys have to say and any other opinions about this article. :)

4 Responses leave one →
  1. Carolyn Girondo permalink
    July 9, 2014

    No worries, I totally understand hustling from one job to the next! I think you hit a lot of the important issues brought up in the readings. I was pretty interested in the claim that it’s not just people consuming, it’s people producing too much. I could definitely see this being a major problem that gets over looked. It has to be a hard balance of maximizing how much your selling and having too much produced. It is something I would like to learn more about, especially how we would go about making change to a production problem. Maybe the focus on the issue of obesity needs to be more broadly approached than it is right now.

    • Robert Bamsey permalink
      July 9, 2014

      I agree with Carolyn that over production is a major problem that is overlooked. Like she said, we mainly look at the consumers for what they consume instead of blaming the people that put in on the shelves knowing it is poor quality. I also agree that the issue of obesity needs to be more broadly approached because we only look at the people who eat bad food as making bad decisions instead of taking the perspective that if the food is bad for you, why do they produce it in the first place? Maybe food companies should take a paternalistic role and only produce healthy foods so we only eat healthily.

      • Cassidy Clayton permalink
        July 9, 2014

        I completely agree with all of you guys. The consensus of the consumers is that “We want is big, and we want it now!” While this meets the needs for many underprivileged families who only have money and time for fast food and terminal products, it is the underlying issue to the obesity epidemic in our country. Obesity is caused by many different reasons but nutrition is a factor and if the people can not even trust the food and produce that is offered to them at their grocery stores then the problem does not lie in the consumers hands anymore. It is an institutional issue that our country is facing.

        • Alina Clark permalink
          July 10, 2014

          I also agree with you all on the point that in essence in takes two to tango. Which I think is one of the main reasons that making progress on the issue of obesity in America is so difficult: because in order to truly overcome the epidemic, it must be addressed from both the consumer as well as the producer side. The difference between the producer and consumer is also huge; different values, different needs, it’s completely different. One side wants to make money, one side wants to be able to afford to feed their families. How do you add healthy portioned food into that and balance it?

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