Globalization of Food Supply

Only available on StudyMode
  • Download(s): 26
  • Published: October 1, 2013
Read full document
Text Preview
Who knew that the food you bought at the grocery store down the street was an international smorgasbord with a huge carbon footprint? Such is the case for the meal described in this unit’s assignment. Between growing, packaging, shipping, and marketing foods to our nation, the globalization of our food supply has no limits, but potentially dire consequences. The food items in question come from a variety of places and were processed and packaged in numerous ways. At my local chain grocery store, Ralph’s, most of the beef comes from factory farms in the Midwest, primarily from a vendor called Nebraska Beef, Ltd. (Luna, 2008). Nebraska is over 1,500mi away, so the beef travels a great distance and uses much fuel to get to consumers’ tables. In addition to the fuel cost, some of the mid-grade quality steaks are packaged in Styrofoam and cellophane, both of which contribute to the product’s carbon footprint since these materials use some form of petroleum. There are local cattle farms only about 25mi away from my city, so the alternative to chain-grocery steak is to seek out steaks produced from these farms. These locally-raised steaks are available at our downtown farmer’s market, and in small grocery stores within the city in which the cattle is raised…but nowhere else. Personally, I am a pescetarian and have been for seven and a half years now, so I choose to eat different protein altogether as an alternative to steak. As for the jasmine rice, there are few U.S. manufacturers who produce this product, therefore the rice must come all the way here from Thailand. Because Thailand is also thousands of miles away, the rice is expensive due to fuel and handling costs. The main concern with growing rice is the levels of arsenic found in it, however both CA and Thailand-grown rice have been found to have lower levels than rice grown in other areas (Eng, 2012). It seems illogical to ship rice to the states from another country when CA is one of the leading growers of this product, however I imagine that the bottom line is ultimately, money. Instead of buying rice grown in Thailand, a person could easily find jasmine rice grown in CA via the internet, or at smaller chain grocery stores, and if jasmine rice is not locally available, then brown or basmati rice might be more easily located. Ralph’s broccoli comes from multiple sources, some relatively local. The broccoli that I bought came from Guadalajara, CA approximately 225mi away, so the term “local” would be a stretch in this case. However some say that 200mi is “close enough to count,” as described by Cosier in the article, “The 100-mile diet,” (2007). The packaging varies from something as simple as a small rubber band around the stock to shrink wrap to a plastic bag, all of which use some form of fossil fuel in its production. At the downtown farmer’s market in my city, there is always an abundance of locally grown broccoli, much of which comes from farms approximately 100-150mi north of here, and it is usually reasonably priced in comparison to the chain stores’. The main difference here is the broccoli from the farmer’s market must be cut down and the chain stores’ broccoli can be found in already-cut form. Therefore, convenience comes at not just a high monetary price to the consumer, but also a higher environmental price. The coffee at Ralph’s comes from multiple sources ranging from CA to Columbia, however the type that I purchased was Starbucks brand and came from Seattle. Seattle is approximately 1,180mi from my city, and even if the coffee is shipped in gargantuan bulk units, this still requires a great deal of fuel. One additional component of this type of coffee to consider is its packaging. I have a Keurig coffee maker that requires “K-cups” which are individual coffee servings wrapped in plastic and foil. While they are recyclable, the tops must be ripped off, the coffee discarded, and the plastic rinsed before being placed in the recycle bin. I’m sure I can speak...
tracking img