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Global Agrifood System and Environmental Concerns Essay

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Updated: Jun 3rd, 2021

Introduction

Modern facilities and educational organizations pay much to the ways of how to save money and provide students and other campus inhabitants with the best services they can. In this case, the representatives of the University of Oregon make a decision to cooperate with a single private company that promises to lower food prices because of the available resources and stakeholders. The idea of the University seems to be beneficial from a variety of perspectives, but it is necessary to remember that the dominant global agrifood system may have a number of invisible negative outcomes. The purpose of this project is to identify one of the major problems with the dominant global agrifood system and offer an alternative to food production.

Global Agrifood System Problem

The intentions of people to reduce their costs and obtain as many benefits as possible result in the development of significant social and environmental problems. In this situation, the University of Oregon accepts the idea of the dominant global agrifood system according to which one private organization is able to source products and set low prices. One may believe that the agrifood system is a perfect solution for the modern world where the problem of high prices and expectations can be avoided. However, it is necessary to recognize and underline health-related problems in the context of the agrifood system.

Promotion of health and healthy lifestyles are the priorities of many academic facilities, and the University of Oregon has to understand that even the best-organized agrifood system is based on some exceptions and neglect. Health issues include the presence of unsafe food, unbalanced diets, and occupational diseases that threaten not only consumers but producers. Toxins in plants, crops, and animal-sourced food are hard to control, and health problems continue increasing.

The rationale for the Problem

Some people believe that they take all the necessary precautionary methods to protect their health and resist various internal and external threats. However, when students have access to cheap and tasty food, they hardly think about the outcomes of consumption but enjoy an opportunity to feed and drink as much as they want. The agri-food system is characterized by the use of unknown or poorly recognized toxins and drift-prone pesticides that may have an adverse impact on human health (Harrison, 2008). The nitrogen and carbon cycles promote the growth of the agrifood system and, at the same time, contribute to water and soil contamination and air pollution (Gunderson, 2011). These processes are indefeasible elements of agrifood business, as well as the reasons for serious environmental problems.

One of the important social effects of the chosen health problem is the inability of people to pay for their treatment or prevented food-related diseases. The lack of medical insurance for students, immigrant workers, and families who live in poverty prevent people from obtaining credible and in-time health care (Harrison, 2008). Society can choose between good or bad food and beverages but never choose between good and bad health. In the situation under analysis, students will receive food that is cheap or of poor quality and will not have a chance to choose. The University of Oregon should stop imposing its opinion on those people who want to have a healthy life.

Alternative Approach

In Oregon, as well as in other states of America, many people are still occupied with farming. Although the supporters and promoters of the agrifood system have already removed a majority of small farms, there is a burning necessity to revive an old farming tradition. It is not enough for a private company to inform the consumer about the origins of products or the policies according to which production and consumption are organized.

The alternative has to be based on the possibility for users to investigate what they eat and where food comes from. Prices and delivery of products are the final stages of food purchasing, and people forget about the necessity to learn the truth and protect their health. Health problems because of unsafe food or the outcomes of the offered food production exist in different forms, and the University has to fight against the organizations where such forms of corruption and deception occur. The alternative approach to dominant global agrifood production is to remember about farm benefits or, at least, provide campus inhabitants with the right to choose between what is cheap and what is healthy.

The rationale for the Approach

The strength of the alternative approach lies in the possibility to prove that the agrifood system is not as perfect as it may seem. Even if private companies underline that they cooperate with local farms to source safe and high-quality products, one should remember the cost of this cooperation.

According to Gunderson (2011), “the length of transport distance from feed production to the ‘farm’ and the ‘farm’ to consumer markets has also increased with the global restructuring of livestock production” (p. 411). These distances may be not only several kilometers but across the oceans where production and import seem to be cheaper compared to local resources. When society makes a decision to save on food, it should never equate with the intention to save on health.

References

Gunderson, R. (2011). The metabolic rifts of livestock agribusiness. Organization & Environment, 24(4), 404-422.

Harrison, J. (2008). Lessons learned from pesticide drift: A call to bring production agriculture, farm labor, and social justice back into agrifood research and activism. Agriculture and Human Values, 25, 163-167.

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IvyPanda. 2021. "Global Agrifood System and Environmental Concerns." June 3, 2021. https://ivypanda.com/essays/global-agrifood-system-and-environmental-concerns/.

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IvyPanda. (2021) 'Global Agrifood System and Environmental Concerns'. 3 June.

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