The Influence of Big Business on Agriculture
Monsanto Corporation is the international Genetically Modified Organism (GMO) seed and herbicide supplier, and although their products help decrease the costs of various foods, the company remains the subject of large business, ethical, and social discussions. With the decisive competitive advantage of developing optimal GMO crops and herbicides formula, Monsanto is the monopolist of the industry (Ionescu, 2020). The monopoly has a controversial impact on agriculture because it interrupts the seed supply among farmers and decreases the value of local productions (Ionescu, 2020). Indeed, smaller companies must comply with trading conditions set by Monsanto and experience difficulties in competing with the industry leader’s prices and marketing influence.
With the rapid increase of the world’s population, economic development, and prosperity, food demand became overwhelming for agriculture, thus innovative decisions emerged. Monsanto Corporation started as a chemical company and timely noticed an opportunity to build a business in the food production industry and developed the Glyphosate-based herbicide to improve the. The benefits of their product are weed control which decreases food waste and costs, and the optimization of workforce amount needed for agricultural operations (Raman, 2017). Moreover, destroying the unwanted plants in fields lowers the volume of nutrients necessary to grow plants. The cons of Monsanto Corporation GMO seeds and herbicides are the glyphosate toxicity and the unpredictable reaction of the human liver and pancreas after GMO product consumption.
If a farm produces organic foods to sell nationwide, several regulatory and legal requirements must be followed by its owners. Firstly, crops or livestock must be revised based on the National Organic Program’s standards to comply as “organic.” Secondly, as the regulatory agency, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) provides lists of prohibited chemistry and production tools that must be avoided (Raman, 2017). Lastly, farmers must be registered and verified by the local governments to be allowed to sell their crops. They need to provide information about suppliers, workforce, activities around harvesting products, and mechanical tools involved in the process.
Heirloom foods are the products that have been grown by humans since the earliest times; they include various types of fruits, vegetables, and meat. Farmers almost stopped growing such foods in large volumes because of their inconsistent and complex nature of raising and higher production costs (Raman, 2017). However, the increasing use of artificial plants and seeds in national nutrition emerged the discussion about their damage to health and consequently made organic and heirloom foods popular again. Knowledge of what a vegetable has been naturally grown at a local farm makes consumers think they receive more vitamins and nutritional elements.
It is crucial to analyze the broader economic situation in the United States to decide if Monsanto’s business practices or farmers’ organic food manufacturing is worth supporting. The country’s population continuously expands, increasing the demand for products that must be of an excellent quality to help develop a healthy and prosperous society (Loopstra, 2018). Consequently, although GMO-based food or non-heirloom crops might be unpleasant for environmental activists, they are affordable for more people.
Major Food Companies in Shaping the Food Voice/Culture of The U.S.
General Mills is an American food company incorporated in Minneapolis, Minnesota, in 1926, which strongly influences the national markets and agricultural business. James Ford Bell founded it, however, the business originated from the Cadwallader Washburn’s mills establishment back in 1866. The company expanded through its history by entering new local and international markets, producing novel products like cereal, yogurts, and frozen vegetables (General Mills, 2021a). Today, the two main products are the Gold Medal flour and Cheerios cereal sold in the U.S. and almost a hundred other countries worldwide (General Mills, 2021b). The target audience of General Mills’ main foods are families with children and people involved in baking. Indeed, most of the company’s advertisements portrayal happy kids having delicious cereal for breakfast and their parents happy to know that the breakfast is sugar-free.
Food regulation is critical for General Mills due to its size and the variety of markets it is presented at. The company has strict raw ingredients processing standards, frequently changes its packing and logistics strategies, and participates in public policy discussions (General Mills, 2021a). Besides, it won the “Processor of the Year 2016” award established by the Food Proceeding magazine to share the most profound experiences of nutritional products manufacturing (General Mills, 2021a). General Mills also supports the Dietary Guidelines for Americans and is a member of the Health and Wellness Advisory Council.
General Mills’ food processing regulation is different from what the USDA applies to farmers’ organic food production. Indeed, the company’s market authority and involvement in various nutrition boards, scientific research, and policymaking organizations make it capable of establishing convenient standards. Moreover, the ingredients General Mills use are provided by the American agricultural companies, which pass the NOP and USDA regulations (General Mills, 2021b). Farmers must get through the verification process to submit their technology and foods are organic, while General Mills participates in setting up the standards for them.
The Slow Food Movement Overview
The Slow Food Movement supports prioritizing local cuisine, food production, and traditions over the globalized approaches of making products convenient for broad consumption. The movement started in 1989 in Italy, when the first McDonald’s opened in Rome. Carlo Petrini raised the need to slowing the life pace and choose local gastronomical experiences to prevent them from disappearing in the times of fast food popularization (Willink, 2019). Activists protested against the globalization of what people eat, arguing that it severely influence culture, environment, politics, and citizens’ perception of identity. Slow Food Movement demonstrated their dissatisfaction by eating penne pasta as a contrast to McDonald’s fast dishes.
The Movement’s philosophy is based on the Concept of Conviviality which values the process of interaction and creation. Indeed, the Slow Food supporters emphasized the pleasure of the time-consuming food preparation process and the interpersonal connections it establishes through cooking and talking. The concept of Conviviality applies the interaction between the participants as the main reason to any activity, rather than the result (Willink, 2019). Used to the Slow Food Movement, the ideology introduces food as a process, communication, and experience exchange, making the time-consuming cooking more valuable than the purpose of receiving calories to receive energy quickly.
The Slow Food Movement has spread worldwide since the moment of its establishment. The organization’s branches opened in 160 countries, such as the United States, Brazil, Spain, Greece, and Cyprus, involving more than 100 thousand supporters (Willink, 2019). The American Slow Food Movement is registered as a non-profit with more than 6000 members and regular donations spent on developing campaigns like “Ark of Taste” and “Plant a Seed.” (Slow Food USA, 2021). The U.S. organization’s headquarters are located in New York City, thus most of the events happen there, making the movement especially popular among the NYC citizens.
Farm to Table Initiative Overview
The 2014’s summit dedicated to improving the Farm to Table initiatives realization for farmers and broaden the healthy food options for consumers in New York State. The included programs aimed to boost local farming, include more nutritious alternatives to the restaurants, and make naturally grown food more affordable (USDA, 2021). The programs, such as Taste New York, FreshConnect, Farm to Institutions in NYS, and GrowNYC, profoundly impacted the state’s farming development and influenced the citizens’ attitudes towards healthy nutrition.
For instance, Taste New York, with its chain of marketplaces that sell locally grown foods and beverages, supports farming in the region. The program supports local producers by giving them stores’ shelves and representing them in the movement’s media. FreshConnect is another local farming support program which, however, addresses the need to make fresh products more affordable. It is built with the government’s funding support and helps the underserved communities improve their diets by giving them free access or discounts to buy locally grown products (USDA, 2021). The main component of FreshConnect is the Checks Program (FCC) which distributes vouchers to purchase or get good food, primarily to veterans and service members.
Farm to Institutions in NYS (FINYS) is the Farm to Table initiative established to provide educational facilities and hospitals with fresh homeland-grown products. These organizations require a significant volume of food, and this demand is the program’s main component because it motivates the local farmers to improve and increase their production (USDA, 2021). FINYS is aimed to deliver at least 25% of all municipal meals’ ingredients from the NYS-based farms. The program that addresses local agriculture’s environmental side is GrowNYC, where the gardening, educational, recycling, and green market initiatives are dedicated to encouraging the citizens to maintain clean and healthy nature. These activities involve various audiences and include funding, marketplace providence, discounts, and benefits for farmers and consumers.
Farm to Table initiatives complements the objectives of the Slow Food Movement because they address the importance of local production for the state’s economic and cultural relationship with nutrition. Indeed, Taste New York helps explore which food characterizes the region’s agriculture, and GrowNYC provides the best strategies to enjoy farming and make it considerable for the future (Slow Food USA, 2021). Slow Food Movement’s philosophy emphasizes the advantage of collective interaction in the process of product harvesting, selling, and cooking, and the initiatives described above prove these benefits.
Food Insecurity in the NYC Overview
Food insecurity is a significant threat for the nation because it harms health and severely impacts economics. Statistics reveal that in New York City, more than 1.1 million of the city’s residents are food insecure as they do not receive enough nutrition or consume low-quality products (Loopstra, 2018). To address the issue, initiatives like food banks established by the city activists: the non-profit facilities distribute free good-quality food to hunger-relief charities. The banks are part of the Feeding America program, which aims to eliminate the meal gap. One reason for food insecurity is the existence of “food deserts” – rural areas where a supermarket is located more than 10 miles away, making various products inaccessible.
Supplemental Food and Nutrition Program (SNAP) is created to provide low-income households with financial aid so that they could afford healthy products. Many citizens participate in the program in their attempts to improve their living conditions and feed their children with better quality. In NYC, more than 1.6 million residents receive SNAP support, and more than 40% of them are children under 18 years old (Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance [OTDA], 2021). Moreover, municipal and educational facilities promote the program to encourage people to improve their lives. For instance, LaGuardia Cares is a community college-based initiative that supports students by providing them with resources to maintain their financial state. The food-related initiatives included in LaGuardia Cares are NYC’s food banks, Urban Food Policy Institute, SNAP, and Farm to Institutions’s free meals (OTDA, 2021). The opportunities include various programs aimed to spread knowledge of local services that can help people in need.
The most interesting topic was the Farm to Table initiative development in NYC because I found this practice beneficial for every person and organization involved. The approach of helping the local farming expand and develop through increasing the demand for their products is simple yet profound. Programs like Taste New York and GrowNYC impact the culture and citizens’ awareness of problems (U. S. Department of Agriculture, 2021). Moreover, they shed light on what products are the most popular and what values must be addressed to leave a prosperous environment for future generations. The topic made me think of food as a part of local culture rather than a sign of spreading globalization.
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Loopstra, R. (2018). Interventions to address household food insecurity in high-income countries. Proceedings of the Nutrition Society, 77(3), 270-281. Web.
Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance. (2021). Supplemental nutrition assistance program (SNAP). Web.
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