Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Research Paper on Food

Food Research Paper
It is largely unlikely that any other topic has more far-reaching implications than food. This is because even equally critical prerequisites for human life such as air and soil are neither as capital- or labor-intensive, nor sensitive to acts of men and nature as our contemporary food chain. There is, however, an enormous discrepancy between the significance of food-related issues and the extent to which they covered by mainstream media. 
The September 11th 2006 issue of The Nation is a rare exception to this rule. The issue covers a wide spectrum of discussions revolving the economics, politics, technology and culture that surround our food system. This essay focuses on one of these issues, namely the influence of agriculture policy-making on urban life.
“Agriculture,” said the founder of a local farmers’ market to Habiba Alcindor, “is just what it says, it has a lot of culture in it” (37). This observation cannot be overestimated; the underlying culture of production, distribution and consumption of foodstuff can be examined from a plentiful of aspects. 

Alcindor, for example, finds considerable racial disparities in farming, including what she finds as entry barriers that prevent black farmers from trading their crops, which have caused a subsequent decline in the proportion of black farmers. She maintains that alternative distribution channels, in particular organic farming markets, do not only help to counterbalance the situation, but also reposition black farmers as “the building blocks for a new inner-city economy” (37). Farmers’ markets and organic farming have several other important implications for urban dwellers. Waters discuses several noteworthy points to consider:
First, the allocation of a greater proportion of households’ food expenditure to wholesome raw materials instead on processed food changes the way people treat eating altogether. Buying fruits, vegetables and meat that require extra work before consumption may lead to longer meals and improvements in the social and family life surrounding them.
Second, better awareness to the way food is produced helps to strengthen the ties between urban society and the society that feeds it – namely the farming workforce and its economic environment. This may mean a reluctance of urban voters to allow government subsidies to certain types of crops (such as corn), as well as the current tolerance towards unfair treatment of workers in the agricultural sector.
Third, such trends will inevitably lead to higher food prices. Consumers will have to pay the full price (in terms of dollars and cooking time) of their meals. Waters argues that current consumers tend to avoid this obligation at the moment, although it is possible that the net price of better food is lower than processed alternatives (13).
The fluctuations in food prices observed in the past several years teach us quite a few important lessons. A simple but nonetheless important message is that agricultural economies are rather sensitive and thus malleable enough to allow for some dramatic changes in it, as the issue’s editorial proposes (5). People who are usually unaware to the forces that underlie our food chain might be willing to consider an array of reforms and show a growing public pressure in this direction.      

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