I Read The Omnivore’s Dilemma & It’s Making Me Skeptical of the Food Industry

OmnivoresDilemma_full

Things I learned:

1. Corn is in everything. Ingredients that contain corn derivatives: citric acid, corn fructose, corn syrup, dextrose, lactic acid, MSG, sorbitol and xanthan gum – just to list a few. Many of these derivatives over time on a mass scale cause obesity. Food scientists spend a lot of time trying to add more calories into smaller and smaller amounts of food.

2. “Compared to us, Mexicans today consume a far more varied carbon diet: the animals they eat still eat grass (until recently, Mexicans regarded feeding corn to livestock as a sacrilege); much of their protein comes from legumes; and they still sweeten their beverages with cane sugar.”

3. We actually have so much corn that we don’t know what to do with it. So we have to create new markets just to keep up with the massive supply, which is caused by low prices, high yield and government regulations that make it less desirable to grow other crops like broccoli.

4. Because we have so much corn, we feed it to animals who can’t process it. To combat this issue, we feed them medicine.

5. We also give animals antibiotics, because we crowd them into spaces not meant for living. We eventually consume these animals, thereby potentially compromising our immune systems.

6. We use fossil fuels to create nitrogen fertilizers for corn. We use 10+ calories of petroleum to create 1 calorie of food.

7. “The ninety-nine cent price of a fast-food hamburger simply doesn’t take account of that meal’s true cost–to soil, oil, public health, the public purse, etc., costs which are never charged directly to the consumer but, indirectly and invisibly, to the taxpayer (in the form of subsidies), the health care system (in the form of food-borne illnesses and obesity), and the environment (in the form of pollution), not to mention the welfare of the workers in the feedlot and the slaughterhouse and the welfare of the animals themselves.”

8. There’s such a thing as an industrial organic farm. You’re dealing with farming on a large scale, so there’s give and take (and more use of fossil fuels). The result is still better than conventional farming given the amount of pesticides you’re removing from the food stream.

10. It’s easy to write about farming on a smaller scale and delivering food only to local markets, but what happens if you try to apply this to NYC or any other densely populated urban centers that aren’t surrounded by lush fields?

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