For my argumentation class, I was assigned to find an article that I disagreed with and then refute it. I chose to write my paper on an article titled In Defense of Industrial Food by Josh Ozersky of Time Magazine.
The views I express below are solely my own.
I remember coming home from school every afternoon: the savory aroma of dinner delicately wafting through the air. That familiar scent of Mom’s rosemary-lemon roasted chicken. Oh, I can’t forget her sautéed zucchini and onions, perfected with a dash of salt and pepper. Mom always carefully picked the best produce and meat. “Come and eat!” she would call out and almost immediately the whole family would come together to chat about the day as we all indulged in heartfelt food. Slow, home-cooked meals can never compare nor be replaced by fast, mass-produced food.
I admit, the first time I read Time Magazine’s Josh Ozersky article “In Defense of Industrial Food”, I took his opinion as a rather narrow view of American mass-produced food. Once I read it more thoroughly, Ozersky makes a good point by stating that because of our huge population, it is ideal for our society to never cease or slow down its production of mass-produced food.
It is accurately stated that food industrialization is quick, easy, and extremely apparent in our society. In a cartoon titled “Faster Food”, Doug Savage of Savage Chickens depicts a chicken ordering at a fast food joint. The chicken at the counter replies to the order stating that their burgers are “creat[ed] at the molecular level using the Burger-Tron5000” (“Faster”). This argues that fast food joints rely on machines and to an extent, fakery. When you go out for fast food, you are definitely not expecting carefully prepared food. There are regulations that joints and restaurants have to meet, but the taste factor overrules. Even though eating out of home may save time and money (If you’re going to In-N-Out instead of Cheesecake Factory), it may not be a good lifestyle choice. Society is extremely aware of the uproar about “trans fats” and “calorie counting”, “whole wheat” vs. “white flour”, “dieting” and “all natural”, “no pesticide” and “organic” trends. In a world that is churning itself with constant health concern, more and more people are starting to turn to cooking at home.
In an article by Marian Burros entitled “From Dining Out To Cold Turkey”, she explains how people are actually saving money and becoming healthier when deciding to cook at home. She states that organizing meals can be the tricky part but mostly, “it doesn’t take more time than going out to dinner” (“From Dining”). Understanding the fact that there are some families of six that don’t always have the time and the money to go out and shop for homemade meals. A $20 bucket of chicken from KFC is much cheaper than buying every little ingredient that soon adds up to three times what KFC offers. The luxury of having someone else prepare a meal for you is cheap. I won’t argue with that. However, you do not have a clue where these restaurants received that ground beef for your burger or those carrots and broccoli for your mixed vegetables. Making a trip to the market enables you to pick out your own produce, your own meat, your own fats, your own calories, and your own lifestyle. By dining in instead of out, people can decide what food they eat without spending too much money out.
Ozersky further expresses his opinion on mass-produced food by claiming early Americans started a trend to how food is treated solely as a commodity and a source of profit. Even though this commercial food system may have always existed, it does not necessarily mean it cannot change. He makes a comment that “The only Americans who ever lived outside a commercial food system were the ones we put on reservations”. While I completely agree that America will forever be a mass-producing country, why not mass-produce in a way that allows consumers to buy them cheaply? Why not take into consideration the idea of genetically modified foods and its impact on the food industry? According to Ferdaus Hossain from the Department of Agriculture, Food and Resource Economics, genetically modified fruits and vegetables “tasted better”, “had a longer shelf life” making them “less expensive” (“Product”). If more fruits and vegetables were modified by this newer technology, more people and families would be able to purchase healthy and fresh produce at a cheaper price. Producing food in masses may be in history and in the future forever by the modification of these commodities heightens the fact that change is inevitable.
More than ever before, people are relishing the idea of purchasing their food from local farmer’s markets. Eliza Barclay of NPR’s Blog entitled “The Salt” reports that, “Since 2010, these [farmer’s] markets have increased 38 percent across the country to more than 1,200 sites” (“Farmers”). The demand for locally grown food is an idea that appeals to society by the bushel. While Ozersky asserts this farmer’s market movement is “and industrial food rant” mimicking the “Free Tibet” bumper stickers. I agree this is another topic for people just to rage and complain about. Locally grown food wasn’t big in the past but all of a sudden it is? People are concerned? What? Perhaps certain towns in fact do not have access to a Farmer’s Market. In this case, one can still manage to buy fresh groceries from any chain market. For my case, people can buy fresh fruit stand produce if they know where to look. The growing interest in fresh, locally grown produce is not just useless water cooler buzz; it is an eye opener that the public is moving away from mundane factory-made food and instead, milling toward healthier and crisper harvest.
I understand America’s mass produced food will not go away. Although it would be nice to see people enjoy a nice sit down dinner in the midst of this fast paced society, or that couple who tends to their garden every day. I’m not screaming that every home cooked meal should not consist of mass-produced food because in the world we live in today, it is nearly impossible to avoid it. Our world consists of a fast paced “Grab N’ Go” centered lifestyle. As always, home cooked meals by far win the taste test in my book and my cookbook. Besides, how could I resist that rosemary-lemon roasted chicken?
Barclay, Eliza. "Farmers Markets Flourish In Winter's Snows." NPR : National Public
Radio. 28 Dec. 2011. Web. 17 Jan. 2012. <http://www.npr.org/blogs/thesalt/2011/12/28/144375035/farmers-markets-flourish-in-winters-snows>.
Burros, Marian. "From Dining Out to Cold Turkey." The New York Times. 9 Dec. 2008.
Web. 17 Jan. 2012. <http://www.nytimes.com/2008/12/10/dining/10home.html?pagewanted=all>.
Hossain, F., Onyango, B., Schilling, B., Hallman, W. and Adelaja, A. (2003), Product
attributes, consumer benefits and public approval of genetically modified foods. International Journal of Consumer Studies, 27: 353–365. doi: 10.1046/j.1470-6431.2003.00303.x
Ozersky, Josh. "In Defense of Industrial Food." TIME. 26 Oct. 2011. Web. 16 Jan. 2012.
Savage, Doug. "Faster Food." Cartoon. Savage Chickens. 10 Jan. 2008. Web. 17 Jan.2012. http://www.savagechickens.com/2008/01/faster-food.html