Nature & Culture
January 21, 2013
How has the value of food changed throughout the years in the United States?
As the years have passed, this country has gone through many cultural changes. From the way we dress, music we listen to and even how we treat our food. One of the biggest events that shaped our society today that has influenced our eating habits is the industrial revolution. The industrial revolution truly changed American society and economy into a modern urban-industrial state (Kelly, 2009).
Industrialization has changed the way society sees food. The fact that we can produce so much food for such little cost diminishes the value of food. When we are producing massive amounts of food for such a low cost, the quality of the food decreases as well, and when the quality of food decreases the value that people have for lessens. This is due to the fact that we can buy large amounts of food for a relatively low cost. As a consequence, we have developed a mentality that throwing some food away does not really matter. Americans throw away nearly half their food every year, waste worth roughly $165 billion annually (HuffPost, 2012). People do not have a conscious for the food they eat, buy or throw away.
Corn is the top crop for subsidy payments so large industrial food chains are, for the most part, based on corn, whether it is eaten directly, fed to livestock, or processed into chemicals such as glucose and ethanol. Pollan discusses how the humble corn plant came to dominate the American diet through a combination of biological, cultural, and political factors. Corn is also a commonly owned resource.
According to Garrett Hardin, commonly owned resources are doomed to destruction. In his article he states that resources are condemned due to pollution and our freedom to breed. Industrialization has led to pollution. “Here it is not a question of taking something out of the commons, but putting something in–sewage, or chemical, radioactive, and heat wastes into water; noxious and dangerous fumes into the air; and distracting and unpleasant advertising signs into the line of sight” (Hardin, 1968). We are destroying our natural resources by polluting our world. Our resources are fairly limited, yet we turn a blind eye and exploit them. “Earth was given to us for usufruct alone, not for consumption, still less for profligate waste” (Marsh, 1864). When it comes to making profit, man will do anything whether it means obliterating nature. “Man pursues his victims with reckless destructiveness; and, while the sacrifice of life by the lower animals is limited by the cravings of appétit, he unsparingly persecutes, even to extirpation, thousands of organic forms which he cannot consume” (Marsh, 1864). Another factor that is damaging our earth is overpopulation, which is also a result of industrialization. Hardin states in his article that our freedom to breed will bring ruin to all. Our society is deeply committed to the welfare state, and hence is confronted with another aspect of the tragedy of the commons. Hardin points out that if each human family were dependant only on its own resources and over breeding brought its own punishment, then there would be not interest in controlling the breeding of families. Over breeding means more people,