Indian River State College
This research essay is being submitted on Oct 22, 2012, for Mrs. Eovaldi ENC1102
In my paper of “Do We Really Know What We Are Eating?’ I spend time explaining how the food industry has changed in the last one hundred years. Everything from how food is produced in America down to its nutritional value at the end of the production cycle. I also explain how the changes in food manufacturing in the United States affect our health and everyday life choices. I will also point out how our government allows the food industry to pretty much do as they please This paper was written to encourage self-awareness as to our food choices.
Americans have a longstanding love affair with food the modern supermarket has, on average, 47,000 products. But do we really know what goes into making the products we so eagerly consume, and do we realize that our demands on food are hurting our environment? Before big restaurant food chains like McDonalds’ and Burger Kings’ etc. were born, Americans grew their own food. We grew our vegetables, wheat to make our own breads, but most importantly we raised our livestock on grass and grains. We knew what we were putting in our bodies. In the last fifty years our demands on food have increased 10 fold! When we go to our local grocery store, most foods on display have pictures of farmers and pastures, picket fences, which entices us to buy, because in our mind we are thinking fresh products. The food industry has made it their mission to deliberately hide how our food is really made or where it comes from. In the past, there were always seasons of when certain vegetables or fruits were available, now all vegetables and fruits are available throughout the year. For instance, tomatoes are picked when they are still green and ripened with ethylene gas (Healthy Heart, Healthy Life Share Guide, pg. 10-27). If you follow the food chain back before it is packaged up and put on shelves for the consumers to buy, factories and very large corporations are processing the meat. They are not being packaged and processed by farmers, or on a ranch like the pictures on the packages may imply. What we do not realize is that a few very large corporations who dictate what kind of information is put out there to the consumer run the food industry.
The whole industrial food system really began in the 1930’s when the McDonald brothers introduced the drive in. The McDonald brothers decided to downsize and fired all of their carhops, got rid of most of their employees, and simplified their menus. They trained their workers to do a specific thing and in doing this they could hire people low hourly wages, so that it would be easy to find someone to replace them. This basic food that was very inexpensive and tasted good made this chain a big success. (Morbidity & Mortality Weekly Report pg. 42-46)
McDonald’s is the largest buyer of ground beef in the United States, and because they want all there burgers to taste the same anywhere you go, the way beef is produced has changed. In the 1970’s the top five beef packers controlled 25% of the meat market, today four of these companies control 80% of the market.
Tyson is the second biggest meat packing company in the United States. Tyson Company has designed their birds now to be raised and slaughtered in half the time it took 50 years ago. The birds are also twice as big especially in the breast area because people prefer to eat white meat.
Tyson has contracts with farmers to grow their chickens. Tyson has full control of all operations, from the beginning the chicken’s life to the end. Tyson has refused to allow cameras numerous times into their farmhouses, for fear of the people really seeing exactly how the chickens, are treated. The chickens’ are crammed into tight spaces where there is no room to walk, they are injected with steroids that takes...