Food an Power

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The world food system is complex, intricate, and interacts with many factors (i.e. political, environmental, climate, etc.). It isn’t a simple solution to provide equitable food for all. One underlying theme throughout the past lessons is desire for power. Affluent countries hold a lot of power because of their access to advanced technology, ability to produce agriculture, and access to resources (i.e. money, equipment, water, chemicals, etc.). However, citizens in affluent countries have access to an abundant supply of both processed and fresh foods which can leave them in a state of comfort. This state of comfort can result in a blind eye to the environmental destruction around the world. For instance, in Indonesia to extract palm oil a high volume of deforestation has occurred in order to enjoy a bag of Doritos. To some, Doritos is an enjoyable chip while to others it is the reason for a deteriorating environment effecting the soil, climate, agricultural production, and creating political tension in areas of Indonesia.

Industrial giants hold an abundant amount of wealth and power. This causes me to wonder who will hold these industrial giants accountable and how? Will there be follow through and/or enforcement of accountability? With political corruption, increased consumption, and wealth it can be a daunting take to fight against an industrial company like Pepsi Co. for sustainable policies when extracting palm oil.

Work Cited:

  1. Canedo, C. (2014, April 7). Syrian Refugees and Palm Oil Deforestation in Indonesia: “Years of Living Dangerously” Episode 1. Retrieved February 16, 2018, from

2. SumOfUs. (2015, January 11). A Cheesy Love Story – The Ad Doritos Don’t Want You to See. Retrieved February 16, 2018, from

3. Yin, S. (2017, February 23). How Far to the Next Forest? A New Way of Measuring Deforestation. New York Times.  Retrieved March 10, 2018, from

2 thoughts on “Food an Power

  1. jmalle25

    Great post!

    I believe you hit the nail on the head with the assertion that desire for power greatly skews the distribution of international food systems. This can be seen via the historical examples of the Irish Potato Famine and the famine in India during World War II. In both cases Great Britain was responsible as attempting to gain power resulted in both catastrophes. In the instance of the Potato Famine the British Parliament hoped to reform Irish society by forcing them to industrialize. While the famine in India can largely be attributed to the fact that Britain was far more concerned with keeping vast strategic reserves of food for the war effort instead of aiding their colonies. You also touch on a good point with how industrial giants destroy environments and damage food systems through their efforts to maximize margins. And to take my best shot at answering the end question, I believe the only way for the power of industrial food producers to be curbed is via stronger consumer protection agencies. For the moment though, America is trending in the opposite direction. Such is the case as the Trump administration has slashed the requirements for foods to be classified as organic. So essentially any operation that has cows without the plague can classify their products as organic. Good questions, great points, excellent post!

  2. helengeb

    You touch on something that is very important. Many do not know the amount of destruction involved in producing their favorite snack–or just one they find moderately enjoyable. Whether it is palm oil in Doritos resulting in deforestation or oil drilling necessary for transportation and manufacturing, destruction is occurring. Usually, poor indigenous people pay that price.

    Unfortunately, even when we do know the true costs we don’t always act ethically. This makes me think of the garment industry. I think it is fairly common knowledge that many of our clothes are note ethically produced yet we still buy them because they are cheap and readily available. So who will make these producers accountable if not the consumers? I think neoliberal ideals would have us believe that it would be consumers acting as the invisible hand of the market. But I think the world will not improve by voluntary individual action. It has to be a systemic change, a complete overhaul of the system’s political and economic structure that prevents the unethical production in the first place, akin to The New Deal or forced integration of schools.

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