Tue. May 17th, 2022

     Do Americans ever wonder where the meat they are putting into their mouths at dinner came from? Or how the vegetables and fruit they’re buying in the grocery store were grown? Is the food Americans buy safe to eat? Many people finally want to know the truth. Many want to know what options they have if they have any options at all.

     A compelling documentary called “Food, Inc.” exposes the truths about America’s food industry. Some of the information revealed in the film could make anyone nervous about food shopping nowadays.

     In the end, it’s hard not to feel defeated by these powerful food industries in America. The industries take over by cutting prices and eliminating organic farmers from the competition, which reduces people’s buying options. Consumers can fight back by committing their loyalty to local farmers and organic foods.

     The truth is that food coming from assembly lines is cheaper. It is also true that since 2003, United States organic food sales have more than doubled, according to Gretel Schueller in her article, “Peeling Back the Label.”

     Even the M2 Presswire research report, U.S. Organic Food Market Analysis, claimed that the increasing awareness of health consequences, environment protection, food safety, and animal welfare have contributed to the growth of this market.

Many people are deciding to pay a little more money and purchase organic and locally grown items.

     On the official “Food, Inc.” movie site, there is a link to a website called the “Eat Well Guide.” This website allows people to put in their zip code to find local farms, markets and restaurants that sell sustainable organic food products.

     If West Chester residents type in West Chester’s zip code (19382), they will find the results surprising. The search results immediately come up with 134 listings within 20 miles of the West Chester zip code.

     Many residents do not realize that there are this many options in the West Chester area. The results include bakers, farmers, stores, farmers markets and restaurants. These results are pleasing, considering Americans desire to purchase organic foods locally. Americans also want to end fatal food-borne illnesses.

     There is always a strong desire for change when people’s lives are at stake. In the “Food, Inc.” documentary, Barbara Kowalcyk lost her two-year-old son, Kevin, from Escherichia coli poisoning after he ate a contaminated hamburger. This incident could happen to anyone, although it is very rare. To eliminate even the smallest chance of this incident happening repeatedly, Americans have turned to other options for their food supply.

     The Journal of Food Science states in its “Organic Foods” article that organic products typically cost 10 to 40 percent more than similar conventionally produced products. The continued growth in the market for organic food, as mentioned earlier, indicates that Americans have begun to realize that their personal health and the environmental concerns are more important than how much money they have to spend.

     Although organic food is generally more expensive, research has shown that at the end of the year, it’s not a great deal more.

     According to the USDA, Americans, on average, spent $1,347 on groceries (in 2004). If people switched entirely to organic foods, it would raise their cost of groceries by about $135 to $539 per year ($11 to $45 per month) assuming that prices remained stable with increased demand.  

     Of course, many people would only want to see an increase in the price of their groceries by about $135 instead of $539. Think of the cost to eat out at restaurants, though. If people don’t eat out as much and put that money toward purchasing organic food instead, their total food budget might balance out.

     No one said it would be cheap to help save the world. It might cost a little extra money to support local farmers and buy organic food, but that extra money spent could possibly add some years to people’s lives and even to this place everyone calls home — Earth.

     Hannah Burner is a fourth- year student majoring in English, minoring in journalism.  She can be reached at HB674784@wcupa.edu.

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