Impacts of a Borderless Society
Breakfast: Orange juice, eggs, toast, butter, jam, bacon, tea
Breakfast: The orange juice was made with oranges from Florida, freshly squeezed. The eggs came from my Mom’s friend’s farm. My Mom made the bread and the butter was from Wisconsin. Someone my Mom knows made the jam. I think the bacon came from Nebraska but that may be where it was packaged or where the package came from (the label wasn’t very clear). The tea was from Sri Lanka.
Lunch: Burger King Hamburger, juice in a box, French Fries
Lunch: The hamburger was probably from a big containment-type feedlot out in the west according to Forbes (2007). I thought I heard that Burger King is now getting their burgers from farms that don’t use containment feedlots but that could mean the burgers are being shipped from Argentina (NY Times, 2007). Then I read Chapter 8 in the book by Eric Schlosser about what happens in a slaughter house. I don’t know if I will eat at Burger King burgers again. Not until I find more up-to-date information on where the beef comes from that is for sure. (Schlosser, 2002).
I also read that the beef isn’t necessarily healthy to eat because of e coli. One professor suggested that is because of the antibiotics that are feed to the steers. (Schlosser, 2002). I really don’t like to think of the chain of events of where the beef came from but the cattle start in a feedlot where they are fed to get fattened up. Next they are slaughtered and the meat is ground up. At some point the ground beef is formed into patties and frozen. Then the frozen patties are shipped to the restaurants.
I read the juice box label more carefully than usual and I realized I had grabbed a juice drink instead of 100% juice. The label on the box didn’t say where the drink in the box came from was came from, only where the box was made.
The French fries came from Idaho probably. (Schlosser, 2002).That means they are peeled and cut into the French fry shape, cooked in oil for awhile and then frozen. They are packaged into bags and shipped to the restaurants and supermarkets after that. At that time out of every $1.50 spent on one order of French fries only 2¢ go to the farmers (Schlosser, 2002). Farmers are working hard for only 2¢ per serving plus they have all the expenses of a modern farm.
The situation for farmers probably hasn’t improved very much. I found an interesting blog with a woman farmer who said that farms are still going out of business. She explained that when farms go out of business in the US and in Mexico that makes room for the corporations to take the land. (McMillen, 2011)
She grows locally grown vegetables and sells the produce to restaurants. She writes about things that go well and things that go wrong like the day the wind blew the top off the greenhouse and they couldn’t deliver the lettuce they had planned to sell in St. Louis.
Impacts of the Global Market. One blog post was about a meeting of The National Family Farm Coalition. Members of the Mexican group La Via Campesina were at the meeting. The talk was about the difficulty for small farmers to survive in both Mexico and the US because of trade agreements (McMillen, 2011). Losing family farms is a very negative aspect of the global market.
An argument in favor of buying food from global markets notes that developing countries need free access to markets, especially agricultural markets (Dean, 2007). Dean argues that developing countries benefit from lowered tariffs and consumers in the USA benefit, too because prices will be lower. Secondly he suggests that more “healthy food from other markets will make it easier for Americans to change their bad eating habits.(Dean, 2007).
On the other hand Dean notes that developing countries are often encouraged to grow mono-cultures like sugar which is bad for their country in the long run destroying soil and natural flora and fauna habitats (2007). Also studies have shown that having access to fresh, cheap produce isn’t the only problem making Americans fat (Dean, 2007).
Think Globally, Act Locally. I suggest two important reasons for buying food locally is that you know where your food comes from and you are helping out your community’s economy. More reasons for me to buy locally are because I can eat the food when it is fresh. Fresh lettuce from a farmer’s greenhouse sounds much better to eat than Iceberg lettuce from the supermarket. First of all, I don’t know how long the lettuce has been sitting there. Secondly I don’t know what chemicals have been used to make the lettuce grow faster or travel better. Thirdly I don’t know how many people have handled the lettuce.
On the other hand I’m not going to stop eating food from other parts of the world. The good vanilla extract probably comes from Madagascar, Africa. It’s one of my favorite flavors. I will also still buy chocolate from the tropics and tea from Sri Lanka and products from other parts of the world. One way to be more conscientious about buying imported food is to buy from companies that pay fair wages. Food in organic food stores and some supermarkets is labeled when it is a “Fair Trade” product.
The Fair Trade Organizations are becoming stronger according to the website at Fair Trade International (2011). The purpose of Fair Trade is to bring equity to the producers. Fair Trade Organizations work to make production and consuming work positively for both the producer and the consumer. They work with farmers and other producers who are pushed to the side by the corporatism of modern market. When the producers of food are treated fairly they are able to live independently and make progress in their farm or business. The whole economy runs better in their communities which ripple out into the world economy. An important advantage for farmers working with Free Trade Organizations is that they are not slaves. They are partners. This year the Fairtrade Organizations voted to make the producers half-owners of the fair trade system. The environment doesn’t suffer because good methods for farming are being used. (Fair Trade Org., 2011).
Some studies that calculate the cost of transporting food long distances don’t take into account the foundational expense of processing fossil fuels, the damage to the environment and health costs (Kloppenberg, Hendrickson and Stevenson, 1996). When these are added into the equation the importance of buying food locally rather than globally is easier to understand. Now that the world is finding other types of energy and progressing towards sustainable energies, the idea of eating food locally may become more popular. The whole process of how food is traveling thousands of miles through all kinds of warehouses and trucks may change radically as fossil fuel becomes less a part of the economy.
At home we buy a lot of products locally but I really didn’t think about the whole global food picture until this class. I understand why people say that the food supply is broken (McMillen, 2011). I’m going to be more careful about what I eat and where it was grown. If the label of something I want to eat doesn’t clearly explain where the food came from then I will chose some other food item.
Dean, A. Local Produce vs. Global Trade. Policy Innovations. www.policyinnovations.org. 25 Oct. 2007. Web. 26 Oct 2011.
FairTrade International. 2011. Fairtrade Labeling Organizations International. http://www.fairtrade.net/>.
Kloppenburg, Jr.,J., Hendrickson, J. and Stevenson, G. W. 1996. Coming In To The Foodshed. Agriculture and Human Values. 13: 3 (Summer): 33-42.
Local-Food Movement: The Lure of the 100-Mile Diet. 2006. Time Magazine Health.
11 Jun. 2006. Web. 23 Oct. 2011.
Martin, A. 2007. Burger King Shifts Policy on Animals. The New York Times. www.nytimes.com. 28 March 2007. Web. 23 Oct. 2011. Retrieved from
McMillen, M.F. Our Food Supply is Broken. Blog Post. Progressive Populist Today. 27 Oct. 2011. Web. 27 Oct. 2011. Retrieved from
Ibid. Jesse goes to a foreclosure. Progressive Populist Today. 27 April 2011. Web. 26 Oct. 2011. Retrieved from
Ibid. La Via Campesina. The Progressive Populist. 17 June 2011. Web. 25 Oct. 2011. Retrieved from
Ruiz, R. 2008. What’s Really in Your Fast Food? Forbes. Forbes.com. 10 Nov. 2008.
Web. 23 Oct. 2011. Retrieved from
Schlosser, E. 2002. Fast Food Nation. What the All-American Meal is Doing to the World. NY. Penguin Books. pp. 117-21, 169-204, 221-2