October 15, 2010
Food Journal Essay
For the past week in human geography, I have learned a tremendous amount about the food world. We watched a movie called Food Inc. and it showed us the many secrets of the food we consume. Many factories do different stuff to their products to create a “good” look, but really it makes the food worse, and puts human beings at high risks. Another down fall of the food we eat is that it is being shipped from hundreds of miles away, when people can go to local farmers markets for a better product and not waste so much gas.
Factories want people to buy their products, so they try to make the items they sell look appealing. By shortening the amount of time it takes for the cow to grow big enough to eat, the companies make more money because there is more food being produced. For instance, to make cows get bigger at a faster rate, they feed cows corn instead of what they are meant to eat, grass. Not only does this affect the cow, it produces e.coli, which is in the meat we eat. When humans get e.coli, they get very sick. A two year old boy passed away because he ate a burger that contained e.coli. Another reason why e.coli is found in meat we eat is because the conditions the cows are in. There are hundreds of cows at the butcher factories that are all sitting, lying, and standing in their own manure, and it gets into the meat we eat. If people bought meat from organic stores, they would be less likely to get e.coli because at the organic farms, cows have a place to roam and are fed grass.
Another minor flaw in the food business is that many foods have procedures done to them to keep them ripe and not bruised. When I went to the grocery store, I noticed that the apples had a thin coating of wax on them. This is to keep them from being damaged, but think about the fact that human beings are eating this wax. Also, there are chemicals called preservatives in many fruits and vegetables so they stay ripe and keep fresh longer. Organic foods do not contain any preservatives, so they are healthier for you, and you are not consuming chemicals.
Most of the food I ate this week was from different parts of the country and world. When I calculated the distances from where my food came from, I came up with about 35,211 miles. This surprised me so much because my family only travels about 4 miles there and back to get the food at the grocery store. The instant I had looked at the sticker on the orange I had eaten, I was utterly shocked. The orange was from South Africa. This happens because in Maryland, our weather conditions are not suitable for an orange to grow, and because there is still a demand for oranges, the stores buy the oranges from different parts of the world where it is hotter. It is a huge waste of gas to ship oranges half way across the world.
I know there is a farmers market about 5 miles down the road, where I could purchase about half of what I ate this week. This would reduce the amount of gas used and I would most likely get a better, fresh product. 18 wheeler trucks can hold up to about 400 gallons of gas, and its mileage is about 10 miles per gallon. With the current gas price at about $3.00, these long distance trips to ship food are a waste. I’m sure most counties have local farm stands that the people can buy their produce from. This would reduce the amount of gas used by a huge amount.
In class the other day, we went to the kitchen and made apple crisp. The other class had products from a further distance than mine. The apples were from a local farm, but the flour, sugar, and other ingredients were all from states in the mid-west area. I think our apple crisp probably had a lower total cost then the other class’s because ours came from closer places. I thought it was cool to experiment being in the kitchen, and I liked looking at the food map that was up, because it showed how much farther the other ingredients came from.
All of these facts that I didn’t know before make me want to change my diet. Before I watched this movie, I didn’t really like or eat hot dogs or hamburgers, and now I most likely will not eat either one. If I did, I would hope that it was organic, so I would not get sick. It’s a very serious matter when people get food poisoning that badly. I am going to ask my mom to buy more of the produce that are in season, or I will ask to buy it from a nearby farmers market. Because organic foods are healthier, and will decrease the chance of me getting food poisoning e.coli, I think I might start eating more organic foods. The few times that my mom has gone to an organic store, she has brought home many normal foods that taste the same if not better. Also, I remember that when we get food from the farmers market, it always taste fresher and richer than it does in grocery stores. Once again, I was very surprised at the distance the food I eat has traveled. The country should try to enjoy the fruits and vegetables that are in season instead of spending extra money and gas on buying out of season produce. All of the gas being used goes back to the last unit dealing with global warming and it shows how easily we could cut back on the amounts being used. The United States of America could be a much healthier country if more people paid attention to what they ate.