Thinking about food (Draft)

As shown in NGO website the consumption of meat in South Korea  has increased by 83% compared to 1961. This is the biggest increase rate among other countries in the same period. This increase of meat consumption shows the rate of industrial farming has increased in South Korea. Industrial farming has started earlier in America as shown in NGO website. Second to China, the US consumes more meat than any other country. American food industry has tendency to disregard morals for an increased food production. Barbara Kingoslver, an American novelist, essayist and poet shows strong sense of place and community in her essay “Called Home,”  She claims that dependence on industrial manufacturing and food consumption are resulting in the ignorance of of agriculture and farming. Kingsolver first starts out her essay by briefly explaining her family’s move to Appalachians. She then explains her reasoning as to why they decided to rely on seasonal farming and food consumption rather than industrialized foods. Kingsolver’s purpose is to persuade people to realize where their everyday food originates from through exposing the reality of American food industry. Similar to Kingsolver, Pollan is against industrial food production. In the writing “The Animals: Practicing Complexity,” he writes about the places that can replace industrial food production. Pollan continues to write about Joel Salatin’s Polyface Farm. He states how complex the Salatin’s agriculture practice is, and contrasts it with simple systems of industrial farming. Pollan consistently emphasize how Polyface farm operates as a whole.

Industrial farming has certain problems. Critiques of industrial food production are such as the way animals are raised is not clean, it takes up a lot of oil to truck fertilizer, and it contaminates soil through the use of nitrogen. Most of the critiques are focused on environmental issues. In Pollan’s writing he points out industrial farming has numerous problems. It promotes monocultures, which can be easily exposed to diseases. Concentrated animal feeding models may seem efficient but they are also susceptible to disease, especially the organic operations than cannot use antibiotics. According to Kingsolver, “genuine food culture is an affinity between people and the land that feeds them” (20). It is a relationship between people and the soil that is needed to grow food. The place people live is as same as the place where the soil is available. The soil is filled with dirt and nutrient food is needed to grow. The ingredients of food take steps to be formed. As most of agricultural land shifted gradually into single crop corn or soybean farms, the farming converted from naturally based to a highly mechanized production system [Kingsolver]. This transformation to urban nation caused unexpected consequences. One of it is the absence of knowledge about how foods grow. Most schools encourage the strongest rural students to leave their farms, and this results in low scoring students to stay on the farms. As modern education system makes students move away from manual labor, and dirt which are the fundamental sources of farming, intuitive sense of agriculture is vanishing. This aggravates the relationship defined by Kingsolver above. This is the reason why people should be aware of how and when to look for their foods.  

Salatin came up with some solutions that would resolve the ethical issues of industrial farming. Polyface farm is where human, animal and plants are keeping interactive relationships

rather than staying under the control of industrial economics. Polyface Farms and industrial food production system differs on moral and ethical sides. Farmers in polyface farms take extra care for each individual animals. They move the cattle every evening, drag the broiler pens, tow chicken coops [Pollan 220]. Everything operates on more than one level. The grass is used to feed cattle, which fertilize the ground with their manure. Also chickens are used to peck at the insects within cattle manure, which prevents pests and disease from spreading on the farm. To keep animals warm in the winter the heat of the compost is used. The woodlot located on the north-facing slopes provides habitat for birds which consume pests. All these works require physical and mental challenge. The whole farm is treated as a biological system in contrast to the industrial food production farm. Nothing is taken for granted and most parts of the farm serve multiple purposes unlike monoculture farming.

This results in a difference in the amount of food production between these two farms. Polyface farm does not require chemicals or fertilizers, thus produces less food than industrial farms where the farmers use a lot of chemcals. If Polyface farm takes over the food industry, the income of drug company will decrease and this will lead to the collapse of fertilizer market. Other factor affecting the amount of production is intensity of labor. Polyface farm is less labor intense than monoculture farm. It creates fewer jobs for Polyface farms than for monoculture farm thus not producing jobs for workers.

This lead to a question of “Do we disregard morals (treatment of animals) for an increased food production?” According to Bittman, people are heavily exposed to the marketing of animal products and junk food. Their production has been supported by government agencies at the expense of a more health and Earth friendly diet [Bittman 3:22]. It seems obvious that trend flows to what people want rather than what they need for health. In Some We Love, Some We Hate, Some We Eat, psychologist Hal Herzog states how humans interact with other animals. I agree to his idea that moral absolutes are not readily available in modern society. People’s attitudes, behaviour and relationships with animals are more complex than it seems. I think completely disregarding the moral is not right, but the amount of food production is as important as morals toward animals. To address the question above only certain parts of Polyface farm’s functions can be implemented. Those features can replace the parts of industrial farming that go against the morals. This will result in the protection of the markets related to farms while at the same time treating animals in right way.