I worked on a research argument proving that organic food is just as healthy as genetically modified food. It was an interesting study, however I think that it needs to be taken in account that genetically modified food is unhealthy in bigger portions. The article below was written for a beginning composition class. I hope you enjoy it.
Cheap and Healthy Incompatible?
How can we begin to start eating healthier when prices of healthy food are increasing? Although the United States has an ever increasing state obesity will the prices of healthy food go down? These questions are some of the questions that I pondered while reading “Escape from the Western Diet” an article written by Michael Pollan. He says in this article that “Americans spend less than 10 percent of their income on food;” (439). Though this is not a large amount of their income Americans believe that even if food is affordable it should still taste good and be healthy. Because this is what America is all about, “quality products for an affordable price”, but sometimes this is proven to be false.
In an article titled “Stanford Scientists Cast Doubt on Advantages of Organic Meat and Produce.” written by Kenneth Chang he advocates that organic food is a great asset to society and that it’s healthier for you than conventional food. Chang starts the Article saying that Stanford “scientists have weighed in on the “maybe not” side of the debate after an extensive examination of four decades of research comparing organic and conventional foods” (Par.1). I think that from this statement he opens up the common conception that because you are paying more for food, that it should be enriched with vitamins and nutrients. But in actuality Stanford Scientists “concluded that fruits and vegetables labeled organic were, on average, no more nutritious than their conventional counterparts, which tend to be far less expensive” (Par. 2). I don’t believe that scientists would lie and they even admit to the fact that they themselves were surprised with the result. So if organic food is no more nutritious than its supermarket counterpart. Why then would there be a push for increase of price of organic food?
Looking at the question above we might ponder where the money goes that is used to produce the food that we eat. Tracie McMillan a reporter for CNN and advocate of the food system mentioned that “every dollar we spend on food, only about 16 cents goes to the farmer” (Par. 7) which is a small portion of the amount it could be in my opinion. But take in account that the rest of the money is accumulated by the company that packages and ships the food. I think that this is important to note because it was mentioned in the article organic vs. conventional food that the increase in cost of organic food is largely due to transportation. Because of the large farms transportation of food is very much apart of the food industry. But in order to drive the price of food down, I contend that if we contracted production of food to small family owned farms which as of 2009 only produced 13% of food in the U.S. The price of food would go down, the local economic state would be stimulated and farmers pay would increase. If this were to happen the wealth in the food system would begin to be spread out equally. But would the localization of food production really help food prices? We will probably never know. But there must be other alternatives than changing the whole way food is produced and still drive down prices.
A recent study by Blogger Charlene Dy suggested that “for each additional minute you spend in a grocery store past half an hour, you will likely spend between 50 cents and $1” (Par. 5). Which is absurd based on the amount of coupons that are given out in magazines and catalogs. I would like to agree that for the average shopper this fact is true. But for those who are clipping coupons and taking the time to become members of grocery stores this is not the fact. I know from personal experience being a cashier at Kmart that people who spend the time looking at prices and clipping coupons often get things free or in some cases get paid for shopping. But as an American people in a whole and especially our generation there is a demand of wants verses needs. Which often cause people to spend a lot more than what they went into the store looking for mainly due to this tendency. Another issue to note is that often the “healthy things” such as organic or other products are on sale. But what if these “healthy” products were automatically cheaper? Would people buy them or would they continue to buy conventional foods?
In 2007 Jacob Silverman wrote a paper titled “Would a fat tax save lives?” in this paper or article rather there was talk of having an additional tax on unhealthy foods. This “fat tax would tax consumers and even companies 7-10% of all unhealthy foods. Some have argued that unhealthy foods such as chocolate chips and cookies are not necessarily bad for you if eaten in small quantities. While others suggest that the proof is in the pudding in a matter of words, and that Americans have little self control when it comes to healthy eating. I think that an incentive such as a tax would cause people to think more about what they buy and ultimately what they consume. Michael Pollan suggests in his article “escape from the western diet” that Americans already spend less than 4% on food than other developed countries. So an incentive to spend a little more for a healthier society is necessary in my book. Also having a board of scientists reviewing nutrition facts wouldn’t be bad. Although I do not believe this practice would need to be incorporated for a permanent amount of time but should be tested. And if this is the only way that Americans diets can be controlled in order to be healthy it should be considered. I know some would argue that as Americans we have freedom to choose, but when it comes to eating some would choose death rather than healthy eating apparently.
In conclusion I believe that Organic is not as healthy as people think it is and in most cases is overpriced due to shipping, marketing, and consumer hype. I verify Dy’s article that we can save money at the grocery store, if we spend the time clipping our coupons and examining shelf prices. But even if that takes too long were just going to end up spending more money. Because as a society we have developed an insatiable desire to obtain and consume more and more. I think that instead of the money going to the supermarkets just selling the food and running power. That the people who do the real deed for America are those growing food and feeding America and in consequence should get paid more. I contend that by shrinking farms we will not only see an increase in farming but it will also decrease the price of groceries. I also agree with Michael Pollan that as Americans we often eat and prepare nutritionally dull food, but as Americans we expect there to be cheaper choices for healthier living. Because of this fact as we grow as a people in population as well as width we might need to consider a tax to control our diets, if we could control our diets we wouldn’t have an American people that are obese. Furthermore I think that in order to decrease the weight of our population these measures would need to take place. No matter the ridicule. And in conclusion the real problem with the rising of food prices is the supermarkets and growing businesses in the United States just growing profits. I have nothing wrong with companies growing in profit and revenue as long as the people that there employing are valued as much as the business owners themselves. And as we look at the rising cost of food we should keep in mind that “For every dollar we spend on food, only about 16 cents goes to the farmer. The other 84 cents go towards what economists call “marketing,”. How much of that dollar is really used for practical things? And how much is used for the building up of the company?
Chang, Kenneth. “Stanford Scientists Cast Doubt on Advantages of Organic Meat and Produce.” The New York Times. 03 Sept. 2012. The New York Times
Dy, Charlene. “Are You Getting Ripped Off? How to Save Money at the Grocery Store
Â .”MyRecipes.com. May 2008. My Recipes.com. 05 Nov. 2012 <http://www.myrecipes.com/convenience/budget-recipes/how-to-save-money-grocery-store-10000001809905/>.
McMillan, Tracie. “Where does your grocery money go? Mostly not to the farmers â
“Eatocracy – CNN.com Blogs. 08 Aug. 2012. CNN eatocracy. <http://eatocracy.cnn.com/2012/08/08/where-does-your-grocery-money-go-mostly-not-to-the-farmer/>.
Silverman, Jacob. “Would a fat tax save lives?” 01 August 2007. HowStuffWorks.com.
Pollan, Michael, “Escape from the Western Diet” They Say I Say 2nd Edition Gerald Graff, Cathy Burkenstein and Charles Durst (2012): 435-441