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Pulling Back the Veil

Well Chef Fan’s it is time once again for another Food Inc. discussion paper and I for one was not to happy at having to not only watch the movie again, but also having to write another paper about it. Frustrated though I may have been I still had to write the paper so I put my mind to it and this is what I came up with. I hope you all enjoy reading it more then I did when I was writing it…

In today’s modern world there is a label on everything from the food we buy to the clothing we wear on our backs. Labels are so much a part of our lives today that most people don’t even bother reading them. In most cases, what is put on the label is for our health and safety. We as a people are paying closer attention to not only what we eat but also where our food comes from. This begs the question, should a company have the power to decide what information to give consumers about the food it produces? With America spending over one trillion dollars a year on food, is it really any surprise that the food industry is trying to maintain their control over what is printed on our food labels? These companies argue that it is for our own benefit that we don’t know how our food is made, but in reality it is just a way to keep increasing their profits and stay in control.

Label Laws and Control

The many ways big food companies have of keeping information away from the general public is rather alarming. In Food Inc. they talk about food libel laws, food labeling laws, and patent laws as specific examples of how these companies keep the general population in the dark about what is going into the food we eat. In the film, Noel Kramers of the California Farm Bureau says that the bureau is against labeling because it “creates unnecessary fear in the consumer’s mind.” What really creates unnecessary fear in the consumer’s mind is a lack of knowledge about the ingredients and chemicals that go into our food. Think about it this way: Dihydrogen monoxide is just water (H2O) but if you haven’t taken a chemistry class then it can sound like a deadly poison. The question we really should be asking is, what is going into our food that they don’t want to put on the label?

Pink Slime

Could it be “pink slime” also known as “lean finely textured beef” (LFTB) and “boneless lean beef trimmings” (BLBT) that ABC News reported on in March of 2012? When people found out what pink slime was, there was a massive public outrage; but the sad part is that pink slime has been present in our beef since it was approved for human consumption by the USDA in 2001. The really scary part about pink slime is that it is treated with ammonia to kill any bacteria in the meat and then flash frozen. For anyone who doesn’t know, ammonia is the active ingredient in glass cleaner, which is ridiculously enough labeled as poisonous if consumed.

Hope

Even with all of the laws and regulations in place to keep the general population in the dark about what we are eating and drinking, there is hope. In the last few years there have been countless organizations that are trying to bring the dark side of big food business out into the light. Organizations like The Center for Food Safety go to great lengths to inform people about what is going on when it comes to the food we eat. Their mission is to inform the general population about the food we are eating and the practices that go into making our food. Knowledge is power, and the more people who know about the unsafe and potentially dangerous practices used to make the food we eat the better our chances of changing these practices for all of our benefit.

Looking at the history of big food business it becomes easy to answer the question of whether or not a company should have the power to decide what information it gives consumers about the food it produces. We have a right to know what we are eating and everything that goes into its production. We have the right to decide if we want to eat a hamburger that has been “cleaned” with ammonia. The good news is that we control what we eat, and we control what we buy. If we want things to change then we need to start buying products that are produced in a healthy and sustainable way. Nothing speaks louder to a business than loss of revenue. It is time we stopped fearing big business and big business started fearing us.

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