We have all been there, running around in our busy lives, whether it be to work or a meeting, catching a train or a plane or running late to class. You get pressed for time and on your way to your destination you pull into a fast food restaurant and grab something quickly from the drive through or pick up window. Fast food is quickly and it can taste pretty good if you like burgers, chicken fingers, fries or a sandwich. Fast food restaurants are also so prevalent in the United States that they are easily accessible and readily available. They are located on every street corner in the city, in the suburbs and just about every college campus. Unfortunately, fast food chains have staggering consequences on their customers, employees and on the food industry as a whole. Effects of Fast Food
Fast food restaurants did not become popular until the 1950s but since their creation they have completely altered the food and restaurant industry as a whole. Fast food is unique because each popular restaurant chain has thousands of locations across the country. Wendy’s, Burger King, Chick-Fil-A, KFC, Taco Bell and of course McDonalds are the big players in terms of popular fast food chains. What makes fast food so different from other restaurants is that fast food chains aim to make all of their products taste exactly the same no matter which location you order from. For example, whether you order a McDonalds Big Mac at a location in San Francisco, California or in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, they will look, taste, and be prepared exactly the same way. These restaurants aim for consistency in their products across the board, leading to a factory-like production of food.
Fast food has greatly contributed to the issues with factory farming that I have focused on in my blog posts. Fast food chains demand such large quantities of meat, and with such rapid turn over that factory farming only grew as a result. Prior to fast food restaurants, factory farming was not as much of an issue because the demand was much lesser. For example, KFC is responsible for the death 23 million chickens each year. A total of 9 billion chickens are killed each year for meat and 23 million of those go to one fast food chain alone. KFC
Additionally, the United States is currently facing an issue with obesity. Fast food restaurants have greatly contributed to the issue of obesity the United States has. Fast food is horrible for the health of people who consume it on a regular basis. Fast food it not only extremely high in calories, but it is high in sodium and sugar which has negative health effects. In 2010, policies were passed that required fast food restaurants to put calorie counts on their menus so costumers were aware of the calories in what they were eating. This is may have made some difference except that a big mac, for example has about 600 calories. This is not an outrageous amount, but it is not the calories in this burger that make it so unhealthy. A big mac has 29 grams of fat, 46 grams of carbs and a staggering 960 grams of sodium. To put this in perspective, the average person should only be eating 2,000 grams of sodium in an entire day. This means that a big mac takes up half that count without counting the fries or drink that many people will have with this meal.
Overall, the fast food industry has created many problems for people including an increase in obesity and a higher demand in factory farmed products.
There are many issues in the meat and farming industry concerning the well being of animals and mal treatment they are suffering at our expense. Many people may think that the issues with the farming industry consist of the growing and slaughtering of animals that we use for meat, but unfortunately, this is not the case. Animal products are so wide spread and so over produced that these issues delve much deeper than just effecting the chickens, turkeys, cows and pigs raised for slaughter.
Animal products are everywhere we turn, even in the most unexpected places.Surprising foods with meat in them Many foods that would be seemingly meatless contain animal products and therefore are not considered vegetarian. For example, gummy bears, any red, chewy candy, marshmallows, beer, wine, and j-ello products, all contain some traces of meat products. I want to highlight this to draw conclusions about just how pervasive animal products are in this country.
In addition, dairy products are staples in most American households and are used in daily life. Milk, cheese, yogurt, ice cream, butter, cream cheese, and sour cream are all examples of the most common household diary products. It is safe to say that many people would probably assume that dairy products do not have negative effects on animals because cows are used for milk and always have been. Milking a cow does not have to be a harmful process to the animal and in fact, a cow going with out being milked can be even more harmful.
Unfortunately, dairy farming has become another factory like process and is creating extreme abuse to the animals involved. Factory farming took over the diary farming industry and made the process completely unnatural. Female cows produce milk only when they have young to feed, not unlike female humans. In order to produce more dairy products, factory farmers began impregnating female cows by artificial insemination. Calves are typically taken from their mother days after birth, well before they are ready. Male calves are sloughed for veal and female calves begin the process of milking as soon as they possibly can. Female cows are being milked at least three times a day and are given drugs to increase the size of their utters and antibiotics to force them to produce more. The dairy cow of today produces more than four times the amount of milk than a dairy cow in 1950. Dairy farming
Cows in the wild or living outside of factory farms have a life span of about twenty years, but female cows being raised on dairy farms live until about five and are then killed when they no longer produce their maximum amount of milk. Their bodies wear down from being constantly pregnant and being milked and therefor they cannot survive. Additionally, the living conditions for milk cows when they are living is terrible. They spend their lives hooked to milking machines in warehouses with no access to light or the outdoors and suffer from standing on concrete floors in cramped stalls.
Overall, there are many negative sides to the dairy industry and the cows who are being milked are suffering for the pleasure of humans who wish to consume their products. Lessing the consumption of such products will lead to a decrease in demand and a better life for many cows.
With all the issues and misconducts occurring in the food industry in the United States, factory farming is the evil of all evils. Factory farming is an injustice so great, I needed two blogs to delve deep enough into the wrongdoings it causes. In my previous blog, I discussed the predominant issues with factory farming, including the maltreatment of animals, and health risks for humans. In this blog post, I wish to outline the ways in which factory farming is harmful to the environment, to workers and to animals alike. Factory Farming on the Environment
Factory farming is an issue that people easily turn a blind eye to because it is easily put out of sight and out of mind. Upon adapting a vegetarian lifestyle, due to my inability to support the factory farming industry by purchasing and consuming meat products, I heard many people question my choice, arguing that the animal was going to die either way, so why bother going vegetarian? This argument does not sit well with me, simply because factory farming negatively effects us all, not just the animals being raised and slaughter at our expense.
Factory farming negatively impacts the environment more so than any other practice on the planet. An astonishing fifty-five percent of all the water used in the United States alone goes towards factory farming in one way or another. (Only five percent of water used in the United States goes towards domestic use) In fact, it requires 2,500 gallons of water to produce one pound of beef alone and 1,000 gallons of water to produce one gallon of milk. How is this possible? Not only do animals like cows require much more water to stay alive, but all of the crops such as grains and corn that are grown to produce feed for animals being raised for slaughter, require water to grow and a lot of it at that.
More issues begin to surface when discussing the production of grain and feed for livestock raised on factory farms. The demand for meat is so high in the United States, with the county consuming billions of pounds of meat per year and the average person eating just over 270 pounds of meat per year. American Meat EatersThe United States consumes more meat in a year than any other country in the world. With the demand at large, factory farms and meat and poultry companies scramble to produce enough meat, and have started buying land in foreign territory to plant grains on to harvest feed for these animals. In doing so, factory farming is also the leading cause of deforestation. On top of this, meat and poultry companies desire labor as cheap as possible, so they pay native’s of these countries next to nothing to work on their crops.
The native and immigrant workers become a sort of indentured servant to these companies and the irony in this industry is that these workers are producing food for animals that are to be slaughtered for the pleasure of Americans, yet many of these workers may be included in the one billion people who are starving world wide. The amount of grain and corn being grown to feed animals in the factory farming industry is enough to end world hunger if it were being fed to the one billion people who are starving in the world instead.
The wrongdoings of factory farming far surpass the maltreatment of animals. Factory farming negatively effects animals, consumers, workers and the environment. Choosing to forgo eating meat or to lessen one’s consumption of meat products can make many positive impacts and lessen our footprint on the earth, while simultaneously saving animal lives.
Amongst all the issues in the food industry in the United States, one issue stands out as being the most inhumane and out of control; factory farming. This practice goes on in this country and has changed the food industry completely, yet many Americans are completely unaware that factory farms exist and even if they have heard the term before, do not know exactly what they practice nor how the animals being raised for slaughter are being treated. The definition of a factory farm as according to the ASPCA is as follows, “A factory farm is a large, industrial operation that raises large numbers of animals for food. Over 99% of farm animals in the U.S. are raised in factory farms, which focus on profit and efficiency at the expense of animal welfare.” So 99% of the meat we purchase are products of factory farms, but what does this mean in terms of quality of the product and the treatment of the animals? The facts are not reassuring, to say the least.
Factory farms have one goal and one goal only: to make money. In order to make as much money as possible, they aim to raise as many animals as possible to sell to companies producing animal food products. There is a huge demand for meat products in the United States between restaurants and grocery stores. With so much demand, and factory farms aiming for as much production as possible, this results in animals being squeezed in huge warehouses with little to no room to move and no access to the outdoors. Some animals are kept in cages, in windowless warehouses where there are no windows are sunlight. WearhouseThis deprives these animals of all natural experiences that they would have otherwise been exposed to. These huge warehouse settings filled with animals being raised for slaughter are breeding grounds for bacteria and disease.
Animals being raised on factory farms do not look like the typical chicken, cow or pig that we can all picture in our minds. They are genetically altered to produce more meat for the industry. For example, there have been instances or factory farmed chickens whose bodies have grown too big for their legs to support. The result is the early death from starvation because they are unable to walk to access the (unsatisfactory) food and water they are provided.
Not only are factory farms concerning for the well being of animals, but they are also unsanitary for humans consuming the animal products as well. Animals raised in factory farms are pumped with antibiotics to keep them from contracting bacteria, but the bacteria only continue to adapt forms which leads to E.Coli and salmonella.
Overall, this is just one more example of the flaws in the United States food industry. Although there are some laws in place to regulate factory farms, they are not enforced and factory farms have lead to the near extinction of local farms with animals being raised under humane circumstances. Farming Laws
Factory Farming: Misery for Animals
We have all been there, we walk down the isle of the grocery store and see signs that read “organic” and “free range” and “all natural” and we feel good about purchasing these products thinking that we are making healthy, conscious choices about what we are putting into our bodies and we even pay more for these labels in order to do so. Stores like Whole Foods and Trader Joes market their products to be all of these labels that are better than your average grocery store goods. While we feel like we are making better choices by purchasing products with these labels, what we do not know is what these promising labels actually mean and how we are being mislead. Misleading Labels
The label “natural” is one of the most common labels we see on our products in the grocery store and we feel good about purchasing an “all natural” product thinking it is more untouched than the product that flaunts no label. The truth behind the “natural” label is disappointing to say the least. The only products that the USDA require a criterion in order to be considered “natural” are meat and poultry. For any other food the FDA’s unregulated definition of natural means that there are no artificial or synthetic additives. This being said, there are not regulations or oversight to monitor food producers to ensure that these guidelines are being followed. All natural products can be grown with pesticides and meat can be raised on synthetic animal feed and given antibiotics.
Another common label for animal products is “cage-free.” This label gives people the false idea that animals that are raised “cage-free” are living a better life than animals who are raised in cages and the notion behind the label is that animals are living on farms with access to the outdoors because they are not in cages. This is not the reality unfortunately, as “cage-free” animals are most commonly raised in cramped barns and coops without access to outdoors or light, meaning they might as well have been raised in a cage. “Cage-Free”
Like “natural” and “cage-free” the label “pesticide free” is over used and has little substance to the claim that the product was made without pesticides. There is no legal requirement for the label “pesticide free” so food manufacturers can label just about anything they wish as “pesticide free.”
These are just some examples of the weak regulations the USDA and FDA on food labels and how consumers in the United States are being mislead. This is a concern and civic issue because people who are attempting to make healthy, environmentally conscious food decisions are unable to do so because labels are not reflecting the reality of the industry. We cannot make conscious decision when information is withheld from us. In addition, there is a clear argument on the part of the USDA and the FDA because they are clearly not regulating food manufacturing companies or holding them to high standards to ensure that we are getting quality food products. We should expect and demand more from our food regulation systems.
This semester I am going to be blogging about something that I deem to be a very current and pressing civic issue, especially in the United States. The food industry in the United States of America is flawed, to say the least, and has a range of issues between the FDA, factory farms, fast food restaurants, the use of GMO’s and the overall food culture amongst the people in the country. There is a lack of education about what we are all really consuming which leads to health problems such as diabetes and obesity to mention a few. Restaurants, especially fast food restaurants, are not held to the standards that they should be in order to serve healthy, safe, and sanitary food for customers to eat. The issues in food processing delve so deep to include animal abuse, misleading labels and unsanitary food problems nation wide. The overarching theme is that American’s do not even know what they are putting into their bodies. Even people who think they are making the most humane, healthy and organic choices are being mislead and there are few forces attempting to combat this serious matter. They say you are what you eat, and if this is true, the United States is in big trouble.
For this blog introducing the topic of the “food crisis” in the United States, I would like to focus on the use of GMOs or Genetically modified organisms. Non-GMO By definition, GMOs are living organisms whose genetic material has been artificially manipulated in a laboratory through genetic engineering, meaning this food that is supposed to be natural is being altered by science. The use of GMOs is a fairly new science and has become increasingly more common in recent decades. GMOs harness unnatural combinations of different natural plants, animals or bacteria. GMOs are created to withstand the effects of pesticides used around them and some even produce insecticides themselves. Industries press the use of GMOs for profit by claiming GMOs obtain enhanced nutritional value and can grow and be fruitful in harsh conditions better than the natural product. Unfortunately, these claims have proven false, as further research and studies show that GMOs are more closely connected with health problems, are damaging to the natural environment and are violating people’s rights, both farmers and consumers alike. consumers
Other developed countries comparable to the United States have severe restrictions or bans on the use of GMOs. The United States has approved the use of GMOs purely for the economic return and profit that companies receive from the use. Many Americans are not even aware that GMOs are being used and do not know what a GMO is. Therefore, they are not able to make the decision on whether or not GMOs are something they wish to consume. For Americans who have made the decision to remove GMOs from their diet, this is extremely difficult because it is not mandated that biotech companies manufacturing the products are not required to label GMO products.
GMOs are not only harmful to people but to the environment as well. Because GMOs are resistant of pesticides, the use of chemicals has gone up 15 times since the use of GMOs began. The use of GMOs has also been harmful to local farmer’s crops and private farms because they have taken over consumer shelves.
Overall, GMOs have become a huge and growing problem in the United States and Americans need to be informed about their food in order to make healthy decisions for themselves and the environment at large.