The Impacts of Corporate Farming

An essential part of survival for all living animals is the need to consume some sort of food source; human beings are no different in the fact that we need to consume food to function.  Human beings may need food to survive, however the consumption of food has taken on a much larger role in human society than just mere survival.  Humans eat to celebrate, to socialize, as part of religious practices, and even out of plain boredom.  So much of the human lifestyle is centered around the consumption of food.  In the past in order for humans to consume food, the food must have first been collected and prepared.  Many people still prepare a large part of their own food but understandably there are very few people in today’s modern society that actually grow, collect, or hunt their own food.  People simply don’t have the time, it is much more convenient and efficient for people to obtain food through markets and restaurants.  Even though markets and restaurants have been around for quite some time they have evolved into new modern versions known as super markets and fast food restaurants in order to keep up with the demand of society.  In the modern day super market every type of food a person could imagine is conveniently available year-round and at an affordable price to most.  The emergence of the supermarket truly is an amazing feat of human evolution but what price comes along with the gained convenience.  Most people when sitting at a gathering eating food, most likely bought from a super market, ever stop and question where the food they are consuming actually comes from.  The majority of society today does not realize what all goes into having a vast array of food available at all times, anywhere in the country at the local super market or fast food joint.  The demand super markets and fast food restaurants have imposed on farmers has completely changed the way food is farmed in the United States; and these changes come with a great deal of social, health, economic, and even political impacts in modern society.

 

A major question that must be understood before the repercussions on society can really be analyzed is of course; what has caused the farming industry to change more in the past fifty years than it has in the past thousand.  The answer is actually much simpler than most would imagine, and that answer is consumer demand.  Troy Roush, the vice president of the American Corn Growers Association, said it very well in the documentary Food Inc; “You have to understand that we farmers… we’re gonna deliver to the marketplace what the marketplace demands. If you wanna buy $2 milk, you’re going to get a factoryfarm in your backyard. It’s that simple. People have got to start *demanding* good, wholesome food of us, and we’ll deliver; I promise you. We’re very ingenious people, we will deliver.”(Roush, Food Inc)  The major supermarket and fast food companies are the ones that are dealing with the farmers directly and indirectly forcing the farmers to implement new factory style farming techniques in order to keep up with the increasing demand.  However those major supermarket and fast food corporations are only doing so because the increasing demand for incredibly wide varieties of food at very cheap prices is created by the consumer.  The consumer is who holds the real power in this predicament, and the consumer is partially the cause of the issue of corporatized farming.  On the other hand the supermarket and fast food companies are still at fault, it was those companies that did implement the idea of having so many foods available at a very cheap price and look the same every time everywhere.  These companies did not intend to change the farming industry and impact society the way they have, they simply just wanted to make money off of selling food at cheap prices to people.  Once the idea of buying any food regardless of season at a cheap price was made a reality more and more people began to buy their food at supermarkets which caused the demand to increase rapidly.  To keep up with the consumer demand, much more food needed to be produced than ever before, food needed to be grown faster, and it needed to last longer on shelves.  In order for this to be possible the way food is produced had to be changed and these changes occurred so quickly that things like quality of the food, health of the consumer, and safety of the workers were neglected.  The consumer could have demanded for high quality, healthy food but because the consumers had become accustomed to the cheap prices they valued the priced over the quality of the food.  In conclusion the farming industry has become such a corporatized industry due to the consumer creating more demand for convenient, cheap food than for quality, healthy food; and the supermarket and fast food companies responding to this demand.

 

The corporatization of the farming industry is not just another normal part of human evolution with no consequences, this drastic change is affecting society in a number of crucial ways.  One of the major effects of this dilemma is the staggering decrease of family owned local farms.  There are very few privately owned farms that sell their food to their local communities in existence anymore.  It’s not that the smaller farms are going anywhere; what is occurring is major agriculture companies with immense amounts of money are coming to smaller family operated farms and forcing them to sign contracts to grow food or livestock for the company.  The companies can do this because they threaten the small farmers with running them out of business because the small farmer simply can’t compete without the technology the corporate farms have to offer.  If the thought of not being able to compete isn’t enough to get a farmer to sign with the corporation many times the corporations will even use their money and contacts with organizations such as the USDA and FDA to get the small farm such down on some sort of health hazard.  Once the large agricultural company gets the farmer to sign a contract the farmer is forced to upgrade his or hers technology in order to keep up with the contracts production standards.  The local farmer may still be the technical owner of his or her farm but they are essentially enslaved by the company they have a contract with by being forced to go way into thousands of dollars in debt to purchase the new farming technology from the companies to produce more food for the companies.  This is bad for local economies, even discouraging farmers from continuing producing food and discouraging to new farmers that want to enter the industry.

Another major impact of agriculture becoming corporatized is the diminishing quality of life of farm animals.  A great quote from PETA’s official website that summarizes what exactly these animals are going through is as follows:  “On today’s factory farms, animals are crammed by the thousands into filthy, windowless sheds and stuffed into wire cages, metal crates, and other torturous devices. These animals will never raise their families, root around in the soil, build nests, or do anything that is natural and important to them. Most won’t even feel the warmth of the sun on their backs or breathe fresh air until the day they’re loaded onto trucks headed for slaughterhouses.”(PETA)  These terrible living conditions are a direct result of major corporations being in control of the farms these animals are raised on.  Because a company is making all of the decisions and not a farmer the animals are looked at as a product not a living creature.  Cuts are made and new processes are introduced to improve production efficiency and the animals are the ones suffering the consequences.  For example, many different processes have been introduced to raise chickens in much less time, to make chickens grow larger breasts, and to raise as many chicken as possible in the smallest space as possible; while the health and wellbeing of the chicken are completely neglected.  This is due to the fact that these major corporations value profit margins over the lives of the animals, and the people making these executive decisions on the animal’s behalf are not ever directly dealing with the animals themselves.  That is why decisions such as how farm animals are raised should be being made by the farmers that actually do and see the work take place not by people in an office somewhere.

 

Corporate agriculture is not only negatively effecting the live of the farm animals but it also has rather significant negative impacts on the environment as well.  As mentioned before when people in an office that are not actually out working the farmland are making the executive decisions certain things are neglected.  The center of concern for economic and social justice says that corporate agriculture “creates environmental disaster through excessive pesticide use, soil erosion, genetic engineering, monoculture, and concentration of animal waste”(coc.org).  The companies are so concerned with temporary gains that long term environmental impacts are often ignored.  This is truly the core of what is so wrong with the farming industry being taken over by large agricultural companies.  Agriculture is being treated as any other business when it is much more important than that.  The agriculture business does not just produce another product it produces the food that feeds the world.  Without agriculture and the farming industry human life as we know it would exist no longer.  In the farming industry things like quality and sustainability need to be the priority in order to not only feed ourselves today but to feed future generations to come.  Thankfully steps are being taken to address these issues today and the future is beginning to look a little bit brighter where food production is concerned.  Organizations like PETA are improving the lives of farm animals, demand is increasing for more locally grown organic foods, which is more farmers markets sprout up all over the nation.  It truly does boil down to what we as the consumer and more importantly citizens of our society want out from our food, if we start to value and demand high quality food and farming conditions than the farming industry will provide.

 

 

 

Works Cited

 

 

  • Food, Inc. Dir. Robert Kenner. Magnolia Pictures, 2010. Netflix.

 

 

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Collective Class Archive

We have created a rather extensive archive this semester on our word press blog.  This archive continues to grow every day with more and more post about a very wide range of incredibly interesting topics.  As a class we have most definitely answered the core questions of this course by analyzing so many different types of technology and there vast range of impacts on the society we all live in.  One thing I find very interesting about our collective archive of a blog is the way every single student brings their own personality, emotions, and writing styles to every one of their blog posts.  This allows the blog to create not only an archive of different ideas but an archive of different emotions and feelings like Ann Cvetkovich refers to in her Archive of Feelings passage.  This is archive of feelings is created due to the fact that the blog posts are very open-ended and this allows everyone to choose topics they feel passionate towards to write about.  When someone writes about a topic that they are passionate about or at least interested in learning more about emotion is very present in the writing unlike in a boring paper where one is forced to write about a topic they don’t care about.  Reading some the latest posts especially the ones relating to peoples final paper topics is very obvious how passionate and driven some students are to write about their certain topics.

In the remaining half of this post I would like to elaborate a little further on a one of the topics that stood out to me as I reflected on the blog as an archive.  The first topic that really stood out to me was the topic of bees.  First off just the fact that someone is analyzing bees and the whole system around using them as a type of technology is awesome and just goes to show how many things most people would consider technology actually can be considered technology.  Before very recently when I stumbled across some information about the serious declination of the bee population I was not aware that this was a problem at all.  Bees seem like such an insignificant creature and even a pest to many people.  There are so many different technologies in our society that are solely used to kill bees.  It seems that too many people are so worried about the bees invading their lives and are failing to see just how large of an impact bees have on our comfortable lifestyles.  There are many people that aren’t even aware that without any bees to help pollinate plants many of the fruits and vegetables we eat everyday would be much harder to find in stores, much more expensive if you could find them, and some may even be complete nonexistent in stores.  This topic is very interesting to me and truly makes me wonder why more is not being done to protect and replenish the bee population.  I am definitely looking forward to reading the final paper on this topic when it is posted to our collective class archive.

Personal Research Reflection

For my research topic I am further investigating the corporatization of the farming industry.  In this blog post I will reflect on why I am investigating this topic and what roles my environment and identity as an individual has played in the motivation behind choosing this topic.  Living in modern day America and being a college student who uses the internet for almost everything plays a very key role my perception of my chosen topic.  Living in modern day America is such a big influence because America is the center of world where fast food is concerned.  Fast food was created here and fast food restaurants are more plentiful here than anywhere else in the world.  This means there is more fast food advertisements here than anywhere else as well.  Being so openly exposed to these advertisements has made me curious of what all really goes into the food that looks so good in those ads.  I started doing some research online about fast food and started asking myself question such as; where is all of the food these major fast food companies are producing coming from?  This curiosity is what initially caused me to stumble upon the problem arising in this nation, that our farming industry is being taken over by massive corporations.

I wanted to know more about what this corporatization meant for our society and what these farmers were doing differently now from what was being done in the past.  There are a few small farms in the city I’m from but I grew up in the suburbs part of town and really have never been that exposed to farming and don’t truly know what being a farmer entails.  This lack of knowledge where farming is concerned mixed with the constant exposure to fast food advertisements created a separation between my food and its origin.  Myself along with the majority of Americans don’t stop and think about where the food they are eating is really coming from and what all has to happen to the food to get it in the condition it is on your plate.

On another note I would like to reflect on my past experience with this topic which also ties into why I am motivated to investigate this topic even further.  Growing up I was a rather picky eater and both my parents worked full time jobs and as a result I ate fast food meals and junky snacks rather often.  These bad eating habits carried on into my life even when I was making my own food choices.  My last year of high school I reached a point where I was very over weight and had enough and started to make some lifestyle changes.  I started working out and eventually started to drastically change my diet, eating healthy and exercising has become a passion of mine over time and I am constantly doing research to find out more information on fitness, eating healthy, and just food in general.  Throughout this research I have watched many documentaries on the subject including Food Inc. which I watched again for this class.  Food Inc. and other documentaries such as Hungry for Change have changed my perspective of eating healthy and why more people aren’t striving to do so.  I realized the underlying cause for this issue is the fact that the major corporations that are vastly in control of the food supply in this country are only worried about making a quick profit off of cheap, highly processed foods and are not worried one little bit about the health of the people consuming these foods.  In conclusion, the main reason for me choosing this topic is because I have been personally affected by the consequences of this issue.

Horses or Farming ?

At this point in my writing process I am still very torn on what topic I would like to cover in my final paper.  There are a couple of topics that I am currently considering writing about.  The first topic I am considering is the modern corporatization of the farming industry in the United States.  Another topic that I find very interesting and would like to know more about is the domestication of the horse.  Both of these topics have deeply impacted the way our society functions today.  Due to the great impacts of both of these topics find information and credible sources about the topics would be relatively easy.  The corporatization of the farming industry however is a much more relevant in today’s society than the domestication of the horse.  Because of the more modern relevance I am leaning more towards covering the corporatization of farming at this moment but I would like to further investigate both topics in order to make my decision.  In the remainder of this post I will outline some of the main aspects I would research and write about for both of my topics of consideration.

The human domestication of the horse dates back thousands of years.  When man learned to ride the horse the horizon of travel widened greatly.  Before the horse the only means of travel was by foot or by water.  Man could now travel much further to places never known as possible to reach by foot or water.  This lead to different groups of people coming into contact and being able to trade goods services and more importantly ideas.  Expanded means of travel is only one aspect of human life affected by the domestication of the horse.  Horses became an extremely versatile tool for helping with physical labor.  The strength of the horse allowed them to pull many things such as plows for farming and carriages for transport of goods.  The domestication of the horse also lead to a whole new style of hunting and a whole new style of warfare never before possible.

The farming industry in the United States has changed more in the last couple of decades than it has since industrial machines were introduced during the industrial revolution.  One of the major reasons for all of this change is due to the very small number of companies that own and operate the vast majority of farms in this country.  The number of smaller privately owned farms has never been smaller and is only decreasing further.  This is because the large corporations are either buying out the smaller local farms or pushing them out of business because the small farmers simply just can’t compete.  This corporatization of the farming industry is the main reason we are producing more food than we ever have before to support our ever growing population; however what consequences come along with this corporatization.  When large companies run farms the animals and crops just become numbers and statistics and the value of their lives are completely neglected.  This leads to awful living conditions of farm animals, incredibly unsanitary food, and the use of vast amounts of hormones and fertilizers are used in order to keep the crops and animals up the company’s standards.

The Influential Impact of Movies and Television

The entertainment industry is one of the largest revenue generating industries in the modern world.  At the forefront of the entertainment industry is the medium of Movies and Television.  In an interview with Tom Sherak, the president of the academy of motion picture arts and sciences, he said, “Film is a reflection of society, both present and past. I think the film and its innovations sometimes has to catch up to society but sometimes it leads society too. Movies are stories, movies are people who come out with ideas about something they want to say, something they want to tell someone. Movies are a form of communication and that communication, those stories, come from societies- not just where society is presently and what it’s doing now- but where society has been. It’s been that way for as long as movies have been around!”(1).  With the implication of new technologies such as Redbox and Netflix, thousands of titles are ready to be watched instantly wherever the viewer may please.  This has made movies and television more accessible now than ever before.  From an entertainment point of view this may seem like a rather amazing thing; however, does this constant exposure lead to more serious problems than most realize?  Is society truly aware of everything they are watching in these movies and television shows?  Does the sociological and psychological impact of the medium of movies and television have a greater impact on society than just mere entertainment?  These questions among others will be the topic of discussion in the following paragraphs of this paper.

Most people seek some form of entertainment in their daily lives because they are bored of their own reality and want to venture into something more exciting than their current reality.  When someone reads a book they create this alternate reality in their minds; but when someone watches a movie or show the alternate reality is created by someone else and is presented to the viewer.  When an image of the character is actually seen and heard in the story it becomes much easier for the viewer to become attached to the character.  This is especially true for television shows where the viewer sees and hears the character every week and begins to see the character change over time.  Many people even get so immersed in television and movies that they develop a strong relationship with their favorite characters.  With many people, this relationship branches outside the movie or show and into their actual lives.  The viewer not only feels attached to the character but to the actor or actress behind the character.  This attachment to the actor drives viewers to want to know more about the everyday lives of these actors and they begin watching celebrity tabloid shows and talk shows hoping that their favorite actors will be featured.  When famous actors and actresses are constantly being pursued by paparazzi and interviewed on talk shows because they have thousands or even millions of fans that want to know everything about them, it affects them majorly and the way they react greatly impacts society.  The media portrays these famous actors and actresses in a very exaggerated fashion.  They always have on the nicest clothes, drive the nicest cars, and seem like their lives are just perfect in every way.  This portrayal by the media leads viewers to believe that happiness is achieved through material means and being rich and famous.  In conclusion, the medium of movies and television is partially responsible for the increasingly materialistic American society we live in today.

In addition to instilling materialistic ideals into modern society, movies and television also have a rather large impact on how frequent viewers perceive the world.  In several of the most popular television shows and movies in our culture the storyline is made to model real life and sometimes is even based on true events that actually took place.  Although the program is made out to be realistic the content is often exaggerated greatly yet the viewer still believes that the content of the program is still realistic.  With repeated exposure to these exaggerated “realistic” concepts the viewer’s perception of the real world can be altered.  A great example is the way forensic science and the justice system is portrayed in crime dramas on television.  Crime dramas are a genre of television shows about crimes, usually extremely violent, that claim to reference real science in an attempt to be as realistic as possible.  This authenticity is a large factor in what makes crime dramas as popular as they are; in fact, there are hundreds of different crime shows out there all with their own little twist on the same concept.  One of the most popular shows, CSI: Crime Scene Investigation, has many scenes in forensic science labs mumbling off all sorts of forensic mumbo jumbo and using the latest and greatest technology.  Viewers even though under the impression that the show is fictional still believe that the forensic science would not just be made up and therefore take the science as factual information applied to a fictional situation.  The viewer thinks that forensic science is acted out the same way in real life as it is in CSI, this however is not the case at all.  A lot of these viewers of CSI and other shows like it are the citizens that are going on jury duty nationwide.  Jurors having a false idea of how forensic science works in real life has been the rise of concerns lately and even has its own clever name, The CSI Effect.  In an interview about the CSI effect with Mike Murphy, a forensic scientist, Mike says, “It’s also caused some problems. And some of those problems are [that] people expect us to have DNA back in 20 minutes or that we’re supposed to solve a crime in 60 minutes with three commercials. It doesn’t happen that way,” (2)  The medium of movies and television may provide a realistic alternate reality for the viewer however the viewer must keep in mind that the ultimate purpose of the medium is to entertain not to be truthful.

Although the medium of movies and television consciously impacts its viewers the medium also has subconscious impacts on the viewer as well.  During a commercial advertisement on television it is usually very obvious what the creator of the ad is trying to sell to the consumer.  However the vast majority of people don’t realize that there are a number of things being sold to them during the film or show as well as during the commercials.  This is because the people behind the advertisement during the show are trying to appeal to the consumer’s subconscious mind.  This form of advertisement is known as subliminal advertising and is common in a multitude of movies and television shows.  Companies will pay the maker of the show or film to place their product in the background or use their product as a prop without directing too much attention to it.  A great example would be in the movie I Am Legend starring Will Smith all of the cars he drives throughout the movie are all brand new Ford vehicles.  Although the spectators of the movie may not realize they watched an advertisement for Ford during the movie, one day in the future they may be looking at cars and really like the new Ford because they remember it as the car from I Am Legend.

The medium of movies and television obviously has an influential impact on the society and the way people think.  Marshall McLuhan expresses his view of how influential electronic media such as movies and television can be especially on children in his book The Medium Is The Message, “The family circle has widened. The worldpool of information fathered by electric media—movies, Telstar, flightfar surpasses any possible influence mom and dad can now bring to bear. Character no longer is shaped by only two earnest, fumbling experts. Now all the world’s a sage.” (3)  With the medium of movies and television being so easily accessible to anyone and the amount money spent in creating the movies and television shows, impacts on society are inevitable.  However, it must be remembered that the type of impact and the severity of this impact are determined by the analyzer of the medium.  If people make sure to take everything they see in movies and on television for what it is, just mere entertainment, than the impact the medium of movies and television have on society can be generally positive and beneficial.

Works Cited

  • Shah, Vikas. “The Role Of Film In Society.” Weblogpost. blogspot.com. N.p., 19 June 2011. Web. 03 Mar. 2015.
  • Rath, Arun. “Is The ‘CSI Effect’ Influencing Courtrooms?” NPR. NPR, 05 Feb. 2011. Web. 03 Mar.
  • MacLuhan, Marshall. The Medium Is the Message. Corte Madera: Gingko Pr., 2005. PDF.

Subconscious Advertising: What Role Does Medium Play?

Although some may deny it the society we live in today is dominated by a very consumer based culture.  So much of what people see, hear and talk about consumer goods, everything from the newest snack food to hottest new car to sickest new pair of Nike shoes.  The medium that plays the biggest role in this consumer based society is advertisement.  Advertisement itself is not an incredibly new concept, people have been advertising the goods and services for quite some time now.  However advertisement used to be a very small slightly insignificant medium such as verbal advertising, billboards, and newspaper/magazine ads.  These mediums reach many people but nothing compared to the advertising mediums of today’s society.  In Marshall Mcluhan’s, The Medium Is The Message, one of the main points made is that the way information is portrayed is just as important if not more important than the actual content of the information itself.  I can’t hardly think of a technology that focuses on this ideal of the importance of the medium itself than modern day advertisement.  Today ads are everywhere we look, there are constant commercials on every television and radio station worldwide, every website anywhere on the internet has some form of advertisement, there is even ads on cars, trains, planes and busses.  This constant exposure to ads of such a variety of mediums raises questions such as, Are certain forms of ads more efficient than others?  Would more people call a number heard on a radio ad or click on a link in an online ad for the same product?

“Americans born since World War II have grown up in a media-saturated environment. From childhood, we have developed a sort of advertising literacy, which combines appreciation for technique with skepticism about motives. We respond to ads with at least as much rhetorical intelligence as we apply to any other form of persuasion.”(1)  Marketing and advertisement has become an entire field of study in today’s society devoted to answering questions like the ones above.  Almost every company now has some sort of a marketing team devoted to nothing but researching new ways to promote and advertise for the company.  Marketing teams put a lot of time, thought, and research into the little details such as color scheme, sounds, fonts and other things that some people would argue have nothing to do with the product/service the ad is representing.  The small things like color and font may not change the product itself but they may convey a certain subconscious emotional response in the consumer causing their perspective of the content of the ad to change.

Footnotes:

Artifact Politics – Fast Food

As human beings we have to consume food to obtain the nutrients our bodies need in order to function properly.  For most of our existence a lot of our energy and resources have gone into the collecting, hunting, preparing, cooking and various other processes of obtaining food.  All of these processes take a great deal of time, time that most people would rather be investing in other aspects of their busy lives.  This all changed when the invention of a technology known as fast food was introduced by the McDonalds brothers.  While many restaurants had previously sold fast food style meals cooked in a reasonably quick matter, it was the McDonalds brother’s assembly-line kitchen and drive-thru serving that really changed the game.  Fast food gives busy people the opportunity to obtain an entire meal not only within a fraction of the time required to prepare and cook one themselves, but also without ever having to leave their car.

The technology of fast food may be a great way to save time when food is needed in a rush, however the severity of the political impact of fast food on today’s society is gravely overlooked by many people. “A generation ago, three-quarters of the money used to buy food in the United States was spent to prepare meals at home. Today about half of the money used to buy food is spent at restaurants–mainly at fast food restaurants.”  (Eric SchlosserFast Food Nation: The Dark Side of the All-American Meal).  Due to fast food being so readily available the importance of the family meal has seemed to diminish with my generation and the generations after mine.  Not many families take the time to cook a nice meal and sit around the table and talk about what is going on in their lives too often anymore.  The loss of this quality conversation time has led to poorer quality relationships between parents and children.  I also believe this lack of parent child communication has caused younger generations to become more socially awkward.  However I don’t believe this is nearly as important as how the fast food industry has changed the way we look at food in general.

The major fast food corporations like McDonalds have completely reshaped the way we grow food.  In order to keep up with the high demand that the fast food market has created the fast food corporations have had to implement industrialized mass production farms.  These major corporations have created an authoritarian style system by forcing local farmers to sign contracts with them and implement their production systems in order to keep up with the companies production standards.  The farms have to function at such a high level that safety and care for the land is often disregarded.  This has led to not only the genetic modification of plants and animals but also to the destruction of farm land due to pushing the land past the limit it can withstand.  Many people in today’s society don’t realize that all of this convenient fast food being available just about anywhere comes with a price, especially the younger generations who have grown up not knowing any different.

Another major aspect of the politics of fast food to consider is the impact their advertisements have on the population’s perspective on what is healthy.  Most people would agree that fast food is not healthy for you but the majority of those people probably couldn’t tell you why.  To appeal to the fact that fast food is unhealthy fast food companies have “healthy” alternatives such as apple slices, or a salad, which most people would agree is healthy.  But what people don’t realize is that these salads or apple slices, might be a little better than the hamburger and fries but are still incredibly processed in order to be cheaply produced and stored for long periods of time.  So these people think they are eating foods that are better for them but are just being manipulated by clever marketing.

Eric SchlosserFast Food Nation: The Dark Side of the All-American Meal

http://www.goodreads.com/work/quotes/2207547-fast-food-nation-the-dark-side-of-the-all-american-meal