University of Chicago
Type of paper: Thesis/Dissertation Chapter
The food industry
The food industry and how food is processed has changed dramatically over the past fifty plus years. The food industry is longer run by farmers. It is now operated more like an industry in a factory setting. Foods like chicken and beef are now produced in massive quantities from enormous assembly lines. The popularity of fast food brought the factory system into the food processing industry. McDonalds was the first restaurant to incorporate this system. Due to the demand for more food, the demand to produce certain types of food in large quantities in a certain amount of time increased. McDonalds became the largest purchaser of foods such as ground beef, chicken, lettuce, and even apples. This caused the need for certain types of food to be produced in large amounts to meet the demands of business. Meat companies had to increase their product in order to meet the needs of the fast food industry. The quality of the food became less important than the quality and the cost to produce in order to maintain an increase in profit needed to be less. The meat packing industry is now one of the most dangerous industries to work in compared to how it was fifty plus years ago. Food is now coming from enormous assembly lines where the animals and its workers are now being abused. The value and convenience of food is now more important than the overall nutrition and environmental impact.
Most of the foods we eat now come from corn. Corn is a major contributor of the food industry and became a major factor in the processing of food and what is being fed to the animals and this consists of mainly cows. It is the main component of feed ingredients to the cows. There are a few reasons and one major reason is that corn is very cheap. Corn also makes animals gain a lot of weight in a short amount of time. Corn is in almost all of the food that we eat. Seventy percent of the foods that we consumer are made from corn. Corn fed cows put more money in the beef industry’s pockets and cheaper meat on the supermarket shelves. A corn-based diet, however, contributes to a host of health problems such as e-coli and salmonella. Corn-fed cattle are prone to serious health conditions such as bloat, diarrhea, ulcers, liver disease, and a weakened immune system. To combat these health problems, cattle are continually fed antibiotics and this ends up in the meat that we eat. Chicken is also produced in a very similar way. The high demand for more chicken is also a cause of this. More chickens need to be produced in order to meet the need of the fast food industry and consumers. Chicken farmers are no longer in control of their birds. Chicken are grown twice as fast and are redesigned to have bigger breasts due to the demand for more white meat.
Genetically modified foods have also increased over the past thirty plus years. Monsanto scientists became the first to genetically plant a cell in 1982. In the mid 1980’s the U.S. supreme court said that you can patent life. The government has no say in regulating the safety of genetically modified goods. They allow the biotech companies to determine the safety. They are also not required to inform the consumer if the food has been genetically modified or not. Seventy percent of foods in the United States contain some type of genetically modified ingredient. People are fighting to have genetically modified foods labeled, so that consumers will be aware of this. The food processing companies do not want you to know what is in the food that they are processing. They also want to make it illegal for you to criticize their products.
More people are leaning toward alternative ways of eating healthier and how they consumer their foods. Many consumers are now eating organic foods. More food companies are producing organic foods based on customer preference. Consumers are eating food that are not processed, with out chemicals, beef that is grass fed, and chicken with no added growth hormones. People are more concerned and aware about what type of food they are consuming, and are becoming more proactive.
This article focuses on the dark side of the food industry and many people do not want you to be aware of this. As time goes on, Americans are learning more and more about where there food comes from and feel that their opinion matters to whether or not they should be informed. A small group of people are now starting to revert back to simpler times. They are buying foods that are locally grown by farmers so that they can know the source of where their food comes from. With time, I believe that the food processing industry will have the same strict guidelines as certain industries like the alcohol and tobacco industries if consumers don’t give up and put up a fight.