Wednesday, April 29, 2009

watch this: food, inc trailer

Like I've mentioned before, I became vegetarian three years ago because of my concerns for how meat was processed. I didn't want to support an industry that abuses workers, animals and the environment. In doing my own research on the food industry overall, sometimes I feel like I should just not eat anything, because a lot of stuff I like isn't processed in a way that I would consider ethical. Living in Berkeley, CA allow me to be in the very privileged position of being able to obtain at least some portion of my food in a relatively guilt-free way.

This trailer does mention health impacts. How most food is processed in the United States has a few important health consequences. Some interesting ones to research include:

  • Ratio of omega-6 fats to omega-3 fats in corn fed beef compared to grass fed beef.
  • Levels of sugar in food over the years
  • Environmental impact of the meat industry
  • Slaughterhouse working conditions

Another one is the "Obesity-Hunger Paradox." Basically, why is it that the poor, who are the least able to afford food, have high obesity rates? In a 1999 study, Christine Olson found that the average body mass index for women in a food-insecure household was 28.2 compared to women in a food-secure household, who had a mean BMI of 25.6. [1], [2]

The management of hunger is a complex task. As a person with extreme economic privilege, I definitely have the option to ask my parents for money when it comes to groceries. However, I don't, and often end up trying to figure out ways to buy a week's worth of groceries for $15. Or, sometimes, if I don't have money to buy a sandwich when I'm in a hurry, I'll get a cup of coffee instead, which usually suppresses my appetite for about 6-8 hours and a little bit over a dollar. Obviously, not very healthy. But as someone who does this occasionally, it's not the same thing as someone--or a family--who regularly faces food insecurity and has very few options. According to the Urban Institute, in 2000, 21.4% of nonelderly Asian-Americans faced food insecurity, compared to 18.2% of non-Hispanic whites. [3]

"Underdogs" by the Coup

"Big ol' spoons of peanut butter, big ass glass of water
Makes the hunger subside, save the real food for your daughter"

[1] "What is the Hunger-Obesity Paradox?" by Lee M. Scheier
[2] "Nutrition and Health Outcomes Associated with Food Insecurity" by Christine Olson
[3] Urban Institute, 2000.

1 comment:

  1. Feeling feministaMay 1, 2009 at 3:46 AM

    I agree with you. Poor people with high obesity rates is a paradox we particularly see in America in which people that are most economically insecure must opt for fast food that is not only cheap but saves time so they could work longer hours. In locations with high poverty rates, cities are high in liquor stores and fast food restaurants and low in the number of grocery markets. Did you know the city of Oakland alone has 400 fast food restaurants and 400 liquor stores?! If some of these people truly had a choice, of course they would pick the healthier alternative, but with their limited budgets, how can they afford organic and locally grown food when the other foods are so much cheaper?