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Food Globalization

2014 July 9
by Brooklyn Steele

Holt-Gimenez talks about the globalized food crisis, stating that last year record numbers of world hunger were at its highest and also highest record harvests and profits for the world’s argifood corporations. Many countries, including Mexico, Indonesia, and Egypt have “food riots” because of this. Even though the United States is not part of this riot, I can still see where the people of the U.S. are highly affected also. Food is so expensive, especially the more healthy food such as meats, vegetables, and fruits. I find this contradicting to America saying they want people to have healthier diets, but when comparing the prices it is cheaper to eat not healthy, especially if there are many mouths to feed in a household. The World Bank reported in 2008 that food prices have increased 83 percent from the previous three years and 45 percent in the world food price index in just 9 months. I understand that farmers have to make a living also and take care of their families, but I would think that a main reason of being a farmer would be to help people and being able to grow food for them to eat. In this case it seems like they are only willing to help the wealthy and the poor that cannot afford the over-priced food will starve to death? The World Bank called for a “New Deal” for Agriculture and trotted out a portfolio of $1.2 million in emergency loans. FAO appealed to OECD governments to finance a $30 billion a year revival to developing country agriculture. It’s nice to see that organizations are seeing the harm that increasing prices so much on food is causing the world. Do you think there should be a certain fixed max. rate of what you can sell your food for?

Inglis and Gimlin talk about how just as a person must eat, so too does any form of social order have to organize the production, distribution, and consumption of foodstuffs. The globalization of human affairs entails many fundamental changes as to how and why food is produced, and in what way it is distributed, and the manners in which it is, variously, prepared, eaten, shared, thought about, imagine, discussed, and fought over in different parts of the world in the present day. One example of how food has globalized: American fast-foods have expanded all over the world such as the McDonalds chain. Its pretty amazing to see how food can spread and how you have to adapt to that culture when moving foods to other cultures. Have you ever been to a McDonalds or a fast food chain in another country and was the food different?


7 Responses leave one →
  1. Lindsay Kagalis permalink
    July 9, 2014

    I really want to add to your second point about the adaptation of chains to different cultures. First off, I always watch the Food and Travel Channel when I have the chance to watch TV. So this explains why I am really happy to have taken this class to go deeper into the conversation about food and communication. I’ve watched a few shows and documentaries solely on how cultures have adapted food chains to have foods that are considered a staple in that country. They included KFC’s in India that added potato cakes, and McDonald’s in countries that serve rice cake burgers or even pasta dishes! When I studied in Spain, the McDonald’s sold a sandwich called the McIberico, which contained a meat that was known to the country. And in France, the Chipotle served a specific style of burrito just seen in France (I can’t really remember what it was). I think it is really kind of cool that they still try to maintain a cultural different in other countries, but at the same time, it is still a fast food chain that is known for selling food with very low quality ingredients. With that said, the food in other fast food chains were slightly “healthier” because European standards for food are slightly higher than those in America. For example, all sodas do not contain fake sugars, and foods are not fried as much. It is really interesting to think about our fast food chains and to think that they are all the same everywhere, but really they aren’t.

  2. Cassidy Clayton permalink
    July 10, 2014

    Food globalization has the power to do so much good in the world, like spread to needing countries who have families and children going to bed hungry every night. Instead, it spreads to populated areas, where many restaurants and people with money already live in order to make a huge profit. I’ve been to Japan and every McDonald’s there was always absolutely packed with customers. While the majority of the food on the menu was similar to the menu in American McDonald’s, there were also some key differences. Japanese people eat more seafood than American people so McDonald’s came up with different food items to meet the needs of their consumers, based on the location of the restaurant. For example, Japanese McDonald’s offers shrimp burgers and green tea mcflurries.

    The globalization of food, however, is an issue. Food is not meant to travel long distances. While it is fantastic to share crops, it is not efficient. Food should be grown and eaten locally, never having traveled anywhere near the average 1500 miles that Spurlock claims. It causes and unnatural imbalance of our food system.

    • Stephen Klier II permalink
      July 11, 2014

      Its crazy to see how the people with the most power will not use it to change the world for good. At some point you can only kill so many people with double quarter-pounders before you have to start doing something good for the food world. The american culture practices “out of sight, out of mind” and thats no different in the drive-thru, so we load up on calories to a deadly level, while other humans around the globe starve. I guess the problem is really from the top and the bottom

  3. Maggie Roth permalink
    July 10, 2014

    Holt-Gimenez’s article touches upon a serious issue that our generation faces–food shortage and over-population are issues that we will have to deal with, and soon. Companies have started to invent solutions to these problems, specifically a company named Hampton Creek which has started to produce products using plant based ingredients as a substitute for eggs. However, I think it is crazy that in this day in age, people are still going hungry.

    To comment on the globalization of food, particularly regarding fast food chains, I have
    experiences as Cassidy and Lindsay while being abroad. Unlike American fast food restaurants were the menu is exactly the same, regardless of what part of the country you are in, other countries offer much more variety. This variety caters first to the resources available to these restaurants but also to the wants of the consumers. For example, in India, many people do not eat beef due to religious beliefs, so their McDonalds tend to serve mostly chicken or vegetarian options on the menu in place of the traditional beef burger. While in France this summer, many restaurants would advertise the “catch of the day” or vegetables of the season– this proved that the food they were cooking was fresh and local. On three occasions my mom and I wanted to order mussels, but the restaurants were sold out of the fresh supply. While disappointing it was really great to see that the restaurants held themselves to a high standard and only offered their customers the best, instead of frozen, non-season food.

    My experiences in America have been quite different though. Regardless of where you go, you can get almost anything you want. Even though the vegetable might be out of season, so it is imported– We stress convenience and choice more than locality and freshness.

  4. Alina Clark permalink
    July 10, 2014

    On the topic of fast food globalization, I think it’s really interesting that fast food chains alter their menu’s globally to suit the cultural tastes of consumers. Another example is in India, where the cow is sacred, almost all of the food items on the menu are vegetarian.

    On the flip side, there is an article I read and am using my paper that discusses and sites examples of same foods produced and sold in the United States versus produced and sold in the United Kingdom. The article compares side by side the ingredients, showing that ingredients that are banned in other countries almost globally [with the exception of the United States] are used in the same exact foods in the United States. Let me give an example to explain a bit better.

    *starred ingredients are banned in Europe*
    McDonalds French Fries in the United States ingredients:

    “Potatoes, Vegetable Oil (Canola Oil, *Partially Hydrogenated Soybean Oil*, Natural Beef Flavor[Wheat and Milk Derivatives], Citric Acid[Preservative], Dextrose, Sodium Acid Pyrophosphate, Salt.
    Prepared in Vegetable Oil (Canola Oil, Soybean Oil, Corn Oil, *Hydrogenated Soybean Oil with TBHQ and Citric Acid Added To Preserve Freshness). Dimenthylpolysiloxane Added As An AntiFoaming Agent” (Vani, 2013)

    WHAT THE HECK IS ALL THAT STUFF??? For those that do not know, partially hydrogenated oil is essentially trans fats, which has been directly linked to cancer, heart disease, etc. To compare, here is the ingrediant list of McDonalds french fries in the UK:

    “Potatoes, Vegetable Oil (Sunflower, Rapseed), Dextrose (only added at beginning of season).
    Prepared in the restaurants using a non-hydrogentated vegetable oil. Salt is added after cooking.” (Vani, 2013)

    The point I want to make with this is 1. to highlight an example of globalization but also 2. to show that due to globalization and the demand, the expectation, of [not absolute crap] in food, global food companies have delivered. They just haven’t delivered to the United States, because they don’t have to. We as a country have yet to set the expectation and stay firm with it. Globalization in the context of restaurants around the globe proves to me what these corporations are capable of if there is enough pressure.

    • Carolyn Girondo permalink
      July 10, 2014

      That’s so crazy that things that are banned in their country are norm in our fast food chains here. Pretty nasty. We went to a McDonalds in Spain and it definitely tasted better! We wanted to see if there were differences in the menu and there were. As Lindsay mentioned, there is the McIberico there were also “alitas de pollo” or chicken wings. They then brought chicken wings to the US but when I was in Spain this was totally different. We tried them and they were so good, a lot of the people on our trip would get them as a cheap hangover cure. When they came out in the US as “mighty wings” a couple of my salamanca friends were excited about the “Alitas de pollo!” but we got them and they were monstrous size because it was mostly lots of batter, deep fried, and nasty. So interesting how even the same product can be very different. We were also fans of the real sugar soda when we were in Spain. Why do we not use real sugar here?

  5. Stephen Klier II permalink
    July 10, 2014

    In reference to the first article, no I dont think there should be a price cap on what farmers can sell their foods for. There should instead be caps on what mass producing agricorperations can produce, it is their flooding of the market that makes farmers have to raise prices in order to stay in business. America is founded on the principles of capitalism and there should be no regulation on prices. Regulate the crazy taxes before imposing price caps.

    I have never ventured outside the borders of America but I have seen many instances of corporations expanding to a global level. KFC in Canada is PFK and it serves a different combination of sides. Corporations have to grow and adapt constantly. Its no different with the food industry. They grow their reach and markets, and they must adapt to sell product that consumers will buy, so it only makes sense that globalization looks different around the world even within the same country.

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