The Business of Eating
Easier consumed than pronounced, niacinamide, sodium ascorbate, and thiamine hydrochloride, are some of the linguistic anomalies that make up my “all natural” Kellogg’s Corn Flakes. The confusion on the nutrition label is a microcosm for what is happening to us, and to our society at large. With more available information today than ever before, we don’t know what we should eat, or even what we’re eating. The truth is that every phase of the food cycle, from manufacturing to consumption, has become corrupted. This corruption, furthermore, will have ramification for future generations. This is because food manufacturing is not only making our bodies sick, but it also ...view middle of the document...
These factory like farms disregard the necessity of balance, and reject the fundamental human responsibility to live sustainably. To be clear, it is not immoral to produce crops in order to make money, and it is certainly not iniquitous to strive for efficiency. After all, even organic farms need to make profit to stay alive. However, when farmers emphasize profit and productivity, at the expense of nature, the effects are devastating.
In industrial farms, land is in endless use even though the land, in cycles, should be left barren and infertile. To compensate for the depleted nutrients, manure and artificial chemical fertilizers, like nitrogen, are pumped into the soil. Although these fertilizers induce crops to grow, they are no replacement for vital organic matter, such as fungi, bacteria, earthworms and microorganisms, and the 50 or so key nutrients, like zinc and magnesium, which have been decimated by the industrial machine. The lack of such key components to the ecosystem causes crops to become less nutritious and more susceptible to pests. Farmers are then compelled to apply pesticides that kills all pests, both good and bad. Thus, the industrial farmers have figured out how to trick nature into growing crops endlessly and without any product loss. It’s a seemingly perfect deal for farmers.
However, there is a catch: this practice ravages our environment, wreaks havoc on our water supply and makes people sick. Two things happen to the chemical fertilizers and pesticides: first, they are either washed away to the ocean, killing fish, and destroying marine ecosystems, or, second, they are absorbed into our precious underground water reservoirs, which we, and particularly residents of Midwestern states, rely upon. Consumption of this polluted water is responsible for thousands of diseases suffered by tens of thousands of people, which include cancer, kidney and liver diseases, and skin and stomach infections. The question is not whether such practices are ethical or not, but rather how is this legal?
The production of corn, a staple of both human and animal diets, exemplifies the problem. Corn is the most abundant cash crop in the US. Yet 95% of corn produced in the U.S. has been profoundly mutated on a genetic level so that it is toxic to insects. Farmers like this because no pesticides are needed, saving them money. This may seem positive at first, because lower pesticide use yields less pollution. However, there hasn’t been sufficient research on the health consequences of genetic modification to determine the long-term effects on human health. Additionally, genetic engineering has ethical implications, sparking controversy regarding the ownership of life.
Livestock has a stake in corn farming as well. Corn has replaced grass as food for cattle. However, cattle are not meant to eat corn, and this leads to painful health effects like high levels of stomach...