Question 1: Analyze how food is manipulated in society with regards to profits, greed, and availability based on socioeconomic factors. Develop an argument in which the aspect of food as a commodity is addressed and how commodification can affect a community.
The discussion of how food is manipulated in the society in the book Elements of Argument has been comprehensively discussed on the 21st chapter Food Matters of the book written by Annette T. Rottenberg and Diana Haisty. The authors describe that in the present world, there is the need to worry about the significant results brought about due to the consumption of unhealthy foods. More children are becoming obese in the United States and are even being affected by diseases which were considered adult diseases in the past, for example, coronary disease. The two main aspects regarding food in this chapter are based on the people who consume and those at work to make ends meet by processing the food. The essay will critically analyze how greed and the urge to make profits in the food industry have manipulated the society.
The manner in which food is grown and distributed has led to global consequences. Citizens buy fast food from restaurants, which are owned by people making a living while at the same time contributing to the increase in the poverty levels in the developing and underdeveloped countries instead of consuming homegrown foods (Rottenberg & Winchell 512). One of the main factors that have affected the food industry is greed. Production of agricultural produce by American farmers increased due to the availability of cheap fuel and alterations of agricultural policies and people thought the food crisis was over. However, this kind of cheap food has had significant effects like the deterioration of the general public health and the environment. Some of these adverse effects were documented in readings such as Fast Food Nation authored by Eric Schlosser and Food Politics. They include childhood obesity and foodborne diseases.
Schlosser explains one other issue discussed on greed about how companies like Wal-Mart and McDonald produced very low quality and paid their workers very little so that they could afford their poorly prepared meals. The wages continued decreasing, and fast foods became extremely cheap too. The author describes this strategy as ‘Fordism’ after Henry Ford who had previously advocated for the need to increase wages for workers working in these enterprises (Rottenberg & Winchell 513).
Contrary to the desired expectations, cheap food is a tremendous asset to the economy. In the past years, there have been protests, for instance, the food movement that was demanding for reforms in the food industry because of its effects to consumers and the high costs primarily due to health complications. However, such measures have not been successful since there are less local food advocates who are afraid that if the new regulation comes to pass, small-scale agriculture will not be revived. Some people in the movement are more concerned about environmental problems caused by the industrial production of food while the rest worry about the unstable nature of the current food and farming economy. The main worry is that the fossil fuels used in the production process have a substantial adverse impact on the environment mainly due to the emission of greenhouse gases, a problem that may cost the country a lot economically.
The issue of cheap food production has been blamed for the widespread occurrence of chronic diseases in the United States due to the added fats and sugars in the processed foods (Rottenberg & Winchell 154). The situation is gradually leading to the bankruptcy of the healthcare system, and the crisis can only be addressed by researching the American diet. In fact, Michelle Obama has a campaign regarding childhood obesity whose primary purpose to insist that food production companies should be more keen on food production and urges all companies to uphold the virtue of personal responsibility. In her speech, Michelle requested all food makers to be mindful of the products that they are offering and provide information regarding the products, especially in children’s foods. Furthermore, the Food and Drug Administration is on the verge of curbing deceptive food marketing. People such as Tom Vilsack are also launching new initiates with a purpose of promoting local food systems as a means to improve the economy and ensure that people in America access healthy food. However, Michelle’s project did not go so well after reformers argued that the organic garden that she owned affected chemical agriculture and they suggested that she should use pesticides. Clearly, the people in the Agribusiness are too greedy to let go of their harmful agricultural practices and use environmentally friendly methods of crop production.
The healthcare reform might be a life-changing point in case it is passed. If insurances cannot hold patients with chronic diseases, it will be forced to push for the companies to be keener in the prevention of such illnesses. However, it would be unfair to suggest that the food movement’s agendas and principles can be reduced to laws or policies. The campaign is no longer about politics or food. Instead, it is about the community and getting a new socio-economic space away from the government’s influence and other corporations (Rottenberg & Winchell 515).
Rottenberg, A. T., & Winchell, D. H. (2015). Elements of Argument: A text and reader.