Rosie Plath Presentacion Oral/ SPA 394
In my opinion, our current food system encourages a culture not only of excess garbage and waste, but also this system contributes to many of the health problems that are suffered by people in the US as well as those in developing nations who are rapidly adopting a western diet. In today’s reality, is true that the majority of the foods located within supermarkets are either packaged, bottled, or canned and are highly processed with machines and chemicals to improve such things as shelf-life, color, and texture. Because these packaged foods have been so highly refined and processed, much of their nutritional value is lost in the process and usually contains high levels of calories, fat, sugar, sodium, and cholesterol. Evolutionarily speaking, human brains are wired to crave things such as sugars and fats because these items are not found easily in the wild and would help to quickly increase calorie intake; in other words, our hunter-gatherer ancestors benefited from these types of cravings because foods high in sugar, like honey, could help to give them extra energy when acquisition of food was a daily struggle. Even though most humans today do not need to hunt for their own food, our brain still craves the foods which are high in the items mentioned above, namely fats, sugars, and sodium which trigger chemical reactions of pleasure and satisfaction in our brains and makes eating processed foods feel more enjoyable and appetizing than unprocessed foods. It is important to note that packaged foods are oftentimes cheaper than nutritious foods like fresh fruits and vegetables or lean meats which make buying them a seemingly better choice for those shoppers who are on a tight budget or have a large family to feed. However, in my opinion it is obvious that a diet high in packaged and processed foods greatly contributes negative health consequences such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol, heart problems, and diabetes just to name a few.
While the previously mentioned health problems are of high concern, it is also important to discuss how the current food system contributes to the growing problems of excess garbage and waste. In a culture where convenience and instant gratification are almost expected, it is no surprise that a large portion of our food comes from fast food drive thru’s or boxes and packages than can easily be cooked with little to no effort and minimal time. These conveniences, however, cost the planet dearly in terms of garbage because although many of these materials can be recycled (for example glass or cardboard) they are usually thrown away into a garbage can and end up in one of the world’s many overcrowded landfills or even worse in the oceans. The concept of throwing trash “away” is artificial because “away” is an actual place somewhere on the earth; our trash does not simply vanish, but rather is transported somewhere where we won’t worry about it.
In my opinion, I believe that new government policies regarding the prices of processed foods such be implemented so that highly processed and pre-packaged foods are more expensive than whole foods like unprocessed grains, fruits, vegetables and meats. These types of food are not only more nutritious in terms of diet but are also much less waste intensive in terms of packaging and by making healthy foods more cost effective than packaged foods, this would encourage people to buy the more sustainable item. Also, because it would be impossible to eliminate all packaging, I think that there should be strict regulations for the materials used in packaging to ensure that they are made from post-consumer recycled materials and can easily be recycled again. On the other side of the coin, it would also be necessary to enforce stricter adherence to recycling policies at the household level, perhaps with a fine for those people who are caught not recycling. If our food system were to implement changes to address some of the problems mentioned above, I believe that we would we help to better the health of the planet as well as the health of humankind.