The Globalization has transformed our world in more ways than one. To describe it in a single sentence, one can say Globalization to be cultural, economical and political phenomena that promotes international integration through exchange of products, ideas and technology. The definition seems as if the phenomenon is a healthy one and with such an activity, a country or a region can learn new technology and skills and append its worldview. One cannot deny that it has many a times had a positive effect on our lives. However at other times it has mutated our lifestyle in ways that we could never have imagined. The most severe effect has been the loss of local essence and customs in pursuit of the global methods. Such local practices were forgotten as global methods seem more profitable or affordable to many, at least superficially.
In this essay, a study shall be made into how it has affected the food habits of individuals and community and a light research shall be undertaken to reflect upon the positives or the negatives that have propped up with it. Ecological and economical impacts of the choices on our world are the prime focus of the study. We shall select two of the three meals in a day and try to trace the origins of the ingredients in it. A look into how the ingredients were gathered and were they local or from far off distances shall bring out some interesting facts about our reliance on items that are actually foreign in nature, but something that we now take for granted. The breakfast and the dinner are the chosen meals for assessment in this essay.
The breakfast is the very first meal in the day. My breakfast for scrutiny today is a typical American breakfast consisting of brown bread toast, scrambled eggs, sausages, deep fried potato cubes and whipped butter spread. Gathering information about the ingredients
required a little enquiry over the telephone and research over the internet. The brown bread was bought from a local bakery that provides the diner with a regular supply. The wheat for the bread was American and the bakery buys Wheat Montana Prairie Gold to bake its bread. The sausages were Purnell's "Old Folks" that are manufactured in Simpsonville, Kentucky. Eggs were similarly American and from the Unitedegg Producers cooperative. Potatoes were similarly American and so was the whipped cream. Thus one can say that the breakfast was completely American, not just the cuisine but also the ingredients used were local and not imported into the country from far off places. One thing to be noted is that the whipped cream was organic and manufactured using sustainable ways.
The dinner consisted of a Chinese take-away ordered from a nearby restaurant. It consisted of Hulatang, fried wontons, almond chicken and chow mein. Hulatang is a traditional Chinese soup consisting of beef, flour, vermicelli, spinach, kelp, ginger, vinegar and sesame oil. The beef, flour and spinach are locally available whereas the Chinese restaurant outlet informed me that the most of its spices are imported from China and so is the kelp. The vermicelli is an Italian food ingredient now very popular in a variety of dishes in America. The fried wontons are a Thai dish that has now staple to the American Chinese cuisine.
Impacts of Globalization on our food habits
The first thing to be noted is that of the contrast between the origins of the American breakfast and the Chinese dinner. Note that the breakfast was cooked in home, while the dinner was a takeaway. While the breakfast had almost no imported or foreign ingredients, the dinner consisted of a large percentage of foreign materials. Thus one of the first observations I would like to make is that the chances of foreign ingredient in our food is
much more if we are eating out. We shall now ponder over the effects of such food practice, involving local and global choices.
The benefit of globalization in food industry is it enables us to enjoy cuisines and tastes of other places. One impact that it has on the society is that it brings closer two vastly separate worlds. Also the effect of local forces is very much present in globalization forces. Like in the case of our Chinese takeaway, the flavors are remarkably different from that in China itself. Although some spices are imported from China among other things, the cuisine is now generally referred as American Chinese cuisine. Thus local flavors and tastes do have an effect on the globalization activity. It results in mixing of cultures and customs too.
The two benefits of globalization on the ecological and economical aspects are given below:
1. More Competition: Globalization enables a customer to have more options and thus creates an environment of greater competition. This has direct benefits of prices coming down for the consumer while they are offered with more variety to choose from. It thus eliminates monopoly. Short term benefits include the customers not having to settle with the offerings of the local market and the long term benefits include more innovation from the competitors.
2. Larger Market Size: A global company can enter into foreign markets where a demand for their services and products might be present. This way the company can grow financially while the consumers get their demands met.
There are many negative impacts to globalization in food choices. The first and foremost being the adverse effect it has had on local produce and farmers. Many a places and people altogether abandon their local customs and habits while blindly adapting the ideas of the west.
1. Social and Economic Costs: Globalization enables larger and mechanized farms, thus reducing labor requirements and hundreds of people becoming jobless with no other skill too. This especially happens in developing countries that are arguably worst hit by such an activity. Also the global food system destroys rural economies as in this system, it is the middlemen that keep the largest share of profits and farmers get as little as 9% (Norberg-Hodge & Gorelick, 2002).
2. Food Quality: It has been found that globalization has also had a deteriorating effect on food quality as in pursuit of keeping the prices down, quality is often compromised with (Foodproductiondaily, 2008).
A recent trend to counter the evil forces has been the promoting localization over globalization. Also the term “Think Globally, Act locally” has emerged which prophesizes the promotion of local methods and customs keeping in mind the global economy and the impact it might have on it. Local food production has thus been gaining strength and concepts of organic and sustainable food production, which is healthy and of high quality have developed. The local food produce is also fresher than that imported from far off places (Roosevelt, 2006). It has also been argued that the global food is actually much more expensive and the costs are usually hidden (Norberg-Hodge & Gorelick, 2002).
Foodproductiondaily. (2008). Globalisation raises food safety fears, says microbiologist. FoodProductionDaily.com. Retrieved from http://www.foodproductiondaily.com/Quality-Safety/Globalisation-raises-food-safety-fears-says-microbiologist
Norberg-Hodge, H. & Gorelick, S. (2002). Bringing the food economy home. International Society for Ecology & Culture. Retrieved from http://www.localfutures.org/publications/online-articles/bringing-the-food-economy-home.
Roosevelt, M. (2006). Local-Food Movement: The lure of the 100-mile diet. Time.com. Retrieved from http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,1200783,00.html.