Saturday, September 10, 2011

Food Industry

The food industry is one of the things I think about the most, and I am sure will be a common topic on Think, Act, Prosper.  So much of the American diet is based on processed foods created by large companies.  Even the fruits, vegetables, and meats which should make up the majority of our diets are altered or grown in ways to make them more profitable, and less healthy.  I definitely do not advocate becoming a vegetarian, as we are humans, we evolved to eat meat, and I believe meat is one of the best sources of nutrition.  I am a follower of the primal food philosophy, which encourages eating WHOLE foods, that have not been processed, cooked simply, avoiding added sugars and grains, which are body is not designed to eat. 

Let's think about the food industry from an economic perspective, using the apple as an example.  Obviously the most basic way to sell an apple is just raw and fresh, but you are not going to make much money from selling a simple apple.  There is a lot of competition and the only way to make more money is to produce them cheaper.  Ways to make food cheaper to produce are by producing it in such large quantities, you can not pay attention to individual plants closely.  Other techniques are using pesticides to ensure none of your crops are spoiled.  This results in apples that are not grown naturally, lets not even mention genetic modifications!  All of this is before we even get into processing.

Food companies can only make so much of a profit from selling plain, raw fruit, so how can they increase profits?  Their answer is by processing the apples into some other kind of food.  Candy coated apples?  Great now we can charge $3 an apple instead of 50 cents because we added caramel to the outside.  Or maybe we can bake it into a cake using 20 cents of ingredients and sell the cake or pie for $5.  Most of the time when they process these foods, they are using the lowest quality (cheapest price) ingredients and are definitely going to add preservatives which are essentially just chemicals.  Your body did not develop to eat these chemicals or the ingredients that have to be cooked and processed to be appealing, your body developed to eat APPLES.  All of this economic activity is very costly to the environment, shipping the apples across the country to be processed, cooking new things at an industrial scale, all of it just to make more profit off of YOU, at the expense of the planet's resources.

By purchasing the raw, whole ingredients rather than processed food, we are saving the planet, not to mention our health.  If you can obtain your food from a local source, that's even better for the planet, and if you can meet your farmer, you can see they are not some faceless corporation existing to serve their shareholders at your expense.  Organic products are guaranteed to be completely natural and pesticide free, as they are inspected and required by law.  If you find a local farmer who follows these principals, then you do not necessarily need the organic guarantee.  

Many people will use the excuse that they are on a budget, to cover up the fact that they are lazy or stuck in their ways.  Think about what I said about the processing increasing profits for companies, just because it "seems" cheap to buy these processed foods, think about the implicit costs you are costing your environment as well as your body by eating this crap.  If we stop buying it, the companies will stop producing it, each time you buy something, its essentially a "Vote" of confidence.

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