The production of food has changed through the years with the ever-growing human population and its mounting needs. Moreover, the principles of producing, purchasing, and cooking food have also evolved under the influence of people’s cultures and lifestyles. The industry of food corporations is now filled with cheap pre-made meals and inexpensive products that can be used at any time of the day. Television programs and social media channels show how to prepare meals quickly and efficiently, appealing to people’s need for comfort.
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The food industry rooted in the principle of cheap and available products often undermines many ethical principles that should surround a business directly impacting people’s health and the environment. For example, Schlosser notes that workers in the food industry have dangerous jobs with inadequate or missing safety standards and a general disregard for human life and safety (420). Animals suffer from food corporations as well, as the latter do not give them any ability to live a healthy life, confining them to small spaces, limiting their mobility, and lowering the quality of their food (Pollan 418). Various corporations try to portray these conditions as a positive outcome of raised efficiency, disregarding the ethics of food production.
Food corporations and the general direction of the food industry have three distinct negative features. First of all, the production of food such as meat and dairy is often marked by manufacturers ignoring any ethics of raising animals for meat and attempting to reduce the price of meat by lowering its quality. Second, the conditions in which many employees of the food industry have to work are unsuitable not only for providing them with adequate pay but also for keeping them safe. Finally, the sector of food production with a focus on effectiveness and speed influences people’s cooking habits, making them less selective in choosing proper and healthy ingredients.
The course of actions in the food industry is affected by the growing number of people and their changing priorities and demands. The chosen path towards efficiency can be explained by the fact that humans need more and more food every day. However, this approach poses a threat to the environment and its inhabitants, as food corporations often ignore the quality standards of producing food. Here, meat and corn production can be a viable example of corporations damaging the environment.
The influence of raising demands can be seen in the production of corn and the use of its waste products. According to Pollan, the excessive use of corn as a feeding base for animals has made the industry of meat production much cheaper as it lowered the costs for animals’ care (418). In reality, corn was never a part of the animals’ diet before the corporations decided to use the waste from cornfields to feed the livestock. Cows and pigs may now be raised in “confined animal feeding operations” that limit animals’ walking space and use low-quality food (Pollan 417). Such unethical conditions perpetuate animal cruelty and produce cheap products with little nutritional value.
The production of meat is a complicated process in the industry for many reasons. The environment ravaged by intensive farming suffers many non-recoverable losses. However, animals are not the only ones who suffer from inadequate conditions in the food industry. Employees of various manufacturing companies often encounter bad working environments as well. These places pose a threat to their well-being and do not offer sufficient social or financial support.
Meat production may be one of the most dangerous industry sectors where people can work. For example, Schlosser describes many accidents that can and have happened at meatpacking firms that hire contractors to clean their factories (420). The safety standards for these crews of workers are practically non-existent, and their lives are not valued enough by their employers to change the established system. Therefore, employees may get injured and even die because of such conditions. Companies’ need to lower production costs drives them to endanger people who cannot find another job.
However, even when the product enters the market, the influence of food corporations does not stop. The industry also dictates cooking habits for people through marketing and media. As people’s priorities change, so do their purchasing and cooking preferences. The scope of influence reaches people’s entertainment and education as well, which can be seen in the example of cooking shows.
Many of the currently existing cooking shows depend on pre-prepared meals and ingredients (Buford 355). The hosts of these programs may advise the audience to buy convenience foods to save their time while cooking. Industrially produced foods may not offer the same amount of nutrients and healthy ingredients (Scholliers 5). This trend changes the way people perceive food and nutrition, focusing on the speed of food preparation more than on its quality. Moreover, the obsession of people with cooking shows also skews the view of food as they often fail to use or present ingredients in their natural form (Buford 356).
Food corporations significantly affect the way people produce, purchase, cook, and consume food. Their impact can be found in every step of the process, starting with manufacturing and ending with meal preparation. Furthermore, all sides of the process suffer from the industry’s focus on efficiency and low prices. Animals are fed low-quality waste and raised in confined spaces, workers are endangered and mistreated, and consumers are influenced to make less healthy purchasing decisions with a questionable appeal of saving some time during cooking.
Buford, Bill. “TV Dinners.” Eating Words: A Norton Anthology of Food Writing, edited by Sandra M. Gilbert and Roger J. Porter, W. W. Norton & Company, 2017, pp. 350-357.
Pollan, Michael. “From The Omnivore’s Dilemma: Cattle Metropolis.” Eating Words: A Norton Anthology of Food Writing, edited by Sandra M. Gilbert and Roger J. Porter, W. W. Norton & Company, 2017, pp. 416-419.
Schlosser, Eric. “From Fast Food Nation: The Worst.” Eating Words: A Norton Anthology of Food Writing, edited by Sandra M. Gilbert and Roger J. Porter, W. W. Norton & Company, 2017, pp. 419-421.
Scholliers, Peter. “Convenience Foods. What, Why, and When.” Appetite, vol. 94, 2015, pp. 2-6.