Are You Really What You Eat?

October 28, 2011

Dirty Hands


Food is a basic human need for survival that has been appropriated by huge multinational conglomerates as an economic commodity. As a result, these corporations seem it fit to give customers the minimum amount of information about the food they purchase, often hiding susceptible material or falsely proclaiming where the food is from or how it is procured and readied for mass consumption. But, is there a greater good being served here, or are the food conglomerates being misleading for the sake of their own pockets?

I personally find this practice of deception to be corrupt and misleading. Consumers should have available to them all information regarding the food they purchase from companies because, as a basic human need, people need to know what they are putting into their bodies as what they eat directly impacts personal health. Without all pertinent information, the public can not accurately assess the quality of the food they ingest, possibly leading to adverse health effects and unnecessary risks.

Could you tell the difference between organic and industrialized food?

The average consumer, and society as a whole, puts a lot of trust into big conglomerates whose products have direct effects on health and wellbeing, with the food, water, and health care industries being the three prime examples. Oftentimes I believe people think, because these products are so basic for survival that corporations who sell them are really looking after the public’s interests. Well, after watching Food, Inc. and Fast Food Nation and reading several publications on the practices of the food industry, I am confident in arguing that major food companies only care about their profits and selfish, narrow minded interests. For example, in the tell all book, “Trust Us, We’re Experts,” Sheldon Rampton and John Stauber reveal how big companies have started using language which humans perceive more kindly when describing and advertising their food, instead of using words and terms which might more accurately label the product. The terms “natural” and “organic” are favorites of big corporations and the public relations experts who advise them because of the implied connotations people associate with them, as juxtaposed to terms like “bio-engineered” or “safety,” which make people uncomfortable or untrusting when seen on food packages. Products labeled “natural” or “organic” make people believe of old fashioned farming and foods grow in pastoral, peaceful settings, and that the foods are absent of genetic engineering or industry, when the truth is, according to Food, Inc., that almost all food is now processed in highly mechanized industrial factories. Companies clearly deceive buyers by using these misleading terms because they want to improve their sales, and by avoiding “trigger words,” which repel potential buyers and replacing them with flowery public friendly words, they can attract people who are looking for foods they believe are naturally produced. The term “natural,” though according to the FDA, is defined as having a product whose raw product has not been tampered, and it further defines “natural flavor” as pertaining to tens of possible food items and flavoring constituents-thus, when a good has “natural” on its packaging, it can be referring to hundreds of different ingredients.

The Real Modern Farm

The current state of information availability in the food industry leaves consumers vulnerable to the whims of corporations who habitually mislead consumers and abuse their both their farmers and livestock. It seems to me that Food conglomerates are using Machiavellian tactics for their own selfish wants. With all the vague labels seen in markets today, people cannot assess the quality or substance of what they eat, and this can lead not onlyto health problems or widespread illness but to increased profits for the big companies. I feel it is essential for people to demand that the industry tell them the truth of how their food is processed and where it comes from because corporations will continue to take advantage of an uninformed public for profit as they have been for years.

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2 Comments on “Are You Really What You Eat?”

  1. jrphilli Says:

    I believe to a certain degree we are what we eat. I know that when people look at me, they probably think I never eat healthy, but I actually do. So, I do not look like what I eat. Now, I am not saying I am the healthiest person alive, but I do not just sit up and eat junk food all night, but I may look like it. Now, before I did not look at what I would eat. I never looked at the ingredients in the food I was eating, and even if I did look I’m sure I would not understand what they say. It was not until I took a nurtrition class, where I learned what was good and bad for me. But everybody is not going to take a nurtrition class. So, how is someone suppose to know what they are eating if they do not have the means to get the resources.
    Also, companys place certain food in certain neighborhoods. So, even if people wanted to eat healthy, they do not have healthy food presented in front of them, they only have the unhealthy food. This is understandable because companies want to make a profit. So, they put the food that fits that population. Those companies are getting ahead by putting unhealthy foods with cheap prices in the urban areas, and the people do not they think is good.
    These companies do not care about the well being of the people eating it, only about their profit.

  2. Brian Hall Says:

    I recently found out about the FDA’s pest-tolerance ratings. Apparently, there is a maximum limit on the number of insect parts and rat droppings that is allowed in our food, and that limit is disturbingly high (in my opinion). Food is a messy business, and if you think that there aren’t cockroaches in every place where food is served…I hate to break the news to you. This is of course a seperate issue from nutrition, but it stems from the same source of corruption; making good food is hard and expensive. Nutritious, clean food is not what you’re likely eating on a daily basis. In addition to this, food costs are partially subsidized by the government (think corn and soy products), so when you buy food, you are seeing a cost that is much lower than it should be. The food companies are in the business of comforting consumers. This is the case with most industries and the government in the modern era, considering how disturbing reality actually is.

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