Oct 222009
Authors: Robyn Scherer

Thursday, ASAP presented ‘Food, Inc.,’ a documentary about agriculture in America. The movie portrays the agricultural industry in a very negative light, yet it fails to offer any solutions.

With any industry, you could make a movie about all of its evils. But these vague generalizations are/not only ethically wrong, they create fear and ignorance in the general public.

I understand that the food production system is flawed, and there are certainly areas for improvement. But, certain practices are in place to help prevent problems between animals and to improve efficiency.

In the first two sections of the movie, the producers declare animal and plant production as unhealthy and economically unsustainable. However, certain trends like organic foods cannot possibly solve the problem.

The film criticizes the use of pesticides and fertilizers. But without these chemicals, entire fields of crops could be destroyed by pests or fail to grow enough food to meet the needs of the future.

In the 1800s, nearly 90 percent of the population was involved in producing/agriculture. In 2000, the percent was 1.5. Yet these people are responsible for providing for the world.

You want cheap food. You want to go to the grocery store and be able to provide an affordable meal for yourself and your family. In America, people only spend about 30 percent of their disposable income on food.

In third world countries, that number is closer to 70 percent. Would you be willing to spend 70 percent of your income on food to change our current practices? I’m betting not.

Current methods of food production/promote efficiency and productivity. I agree this may not be the best way, but do you have a better solution?

In the very near future we will be facing a world food crisis. According to the publication The Engineer, “Experts agree that the world food supply needs to increase by 50 percent by 2050, so the pressure is on the farming industry to come up with solutions.”

The/organic movement promotes itself as different from conventional agricultural production, and it is. The U.S. Department of Agriculture defines organic food as being raised with, “No growth promotents or antibiotics, but vaccines are allowed, only organic feedstuffs, and have access to pasture.” Is this what you think of it being when you see that organic label at the grocery store?

If you get sick and go to the doctor, you may get an antibiotic. Animals are the same way. Some people worry that if they eat meat that has been treated with antibiotics, they will become tolerant of the drug and it won’t be effective for them in the future. If the antibiotics were given correctly, that will rarely happen.

Organic feed is more expensive than conventionally raised agricultural products, and that extra cost is paid by you, the consumer. If you were to eat a grape that was raised organically and one that was not, do you really think you could taste the difference?

The truth is that if everyone were to switch to organic, you would probably see at least a 50 percent increase in your prices for food, and food would not be as readily available. Organic food takes longer to grow, and less food can be grown on the same area of land.

The truth of the matter is that if you want to continue to eat, you will have to have some acceptance for agricultural practices unless you are willing to help make a change. It’s easy to sit to the side and complain, but it’s much harder to actually attempt to solve the problem.

Robyn Scherer is a senior animal sciences major. Her column appears Fridays in the Collegian. Letters and feedback can be sent to letters@collegian.com.

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