The Industrialization of Food Production

The price of food in America includes a variety of different factors that many are unaware of. Food purchased in large commercial supermarkets includes both the cost of long-range food transportation and the price of the food. This type of system greatly affects many of the topics discussed in the classroom. Factors such as sustainability of the earth’s natural resources, preservation of the farmland that is used to produce this food and finally pollution from the transportation of these foods play a central role in the industrialization of food production. Below are some questions that relate to this very issue!


Chart of the total cost for transportation of food:

Consumer Daily Cost Annual cost
You $1.40 $511
Your class $28 $14,308
Your town (New York) 11,709,194 4.273856e+9
United States 429,809,170 1.568803e+11

1) What specific challenges to environmental sustainability are imposed by a food production and distribution system that relies on long-range transportation to bring food to market?

There are many different challenges that could arise because of this long-range transportation of food. This could cause an increase in the pollution rates, a loss in local food systems ,a decrease in the amount of farmland, and finally threaten the preservation of the natural resources that provide us this food. Also, because of this people become unaware of where their food is coming from and become less aware of the impacts that this has on their own communities and the environment. One possible solution would be to become more dependent on food produced locally, however this would present difficulty if much of the farmland is gone.

2 )A study by Pirog and Benjamin (2003) noted that locally produced food in the U.S. traveled only 80 kilometers (appx 50miles) or so to the market, thus saving 96% of the transportation costs. Locally grown foods may be fresher and cause less environmental impact as they are brought to market, but what are the disadvantages to you as a consumer in relying on local food production? Do you think the advantages outweigh those disadvantages?

Some of the disadvantages of buying food that is locally produced are that the product will be more exspensive than those foods produced at the supermarket. It is also sometimes less convenient to buy food that is locally produced because these places are usually located near farmland. Some people that live in more urban areas do not have access to these places. There is also less variety of food available to be purchased. Despite the disadvantages of locally grown foods, I think that there are many advantages that can arise and outweigh the disadvantages. Though it may be exspensive to purchase locally grown food, it is important to acknowledge the affects that the transportation of this food has on the environment. By switching to local food stores we are cutting down on pollution rates, greatly decreasing the price of transportation, and most importantly preserving the environment. The environment should be our main concern, it is what is providing us with these options for food and it is of vital importance that we protect this in order to have food consumption at all!

3) What happened to the gasoline prices recently? How would future increases in the price of gas affect your answers to the preceding questions?

Recently, the prices of gasoline have risen significantly. This unfortunately has a major affect on the preceding questions regarding the long-range transportation of food. An increase in the price of gasoline would result in an increase in the cost for this long-range transportation leading some to prefer shopping in local stores. Since the price of transportation is included in the price for food, there will be an increase in the price of food. However, this increase in the price of food may not be significant enough to deter costumers.


(4) If you are an American, how do you think these figures apply to other countries or your country? Where do you base your assumptions?

As an American citizen, I think that these figures greatly affect the way we live our everyday lives. Not only does it affect our economy ,but it also affects our health. There are many large cities that depend on the large supermarkets to provide them with cheap prices amongst accessability. More people live in the cities than in the areas closer to the farmland, so it is easier for them to buy from large supermarkets and rely on the transportation of food. These figures apply to other countries as sometimes food is exported or imported to the United States which raises the prices of certain foods. Also, many other countries are starting to build large scale supermarkets instead of relying on local businesses which raises the pollutiuon levels and prices that people must pay. I base my assumptions through my own experience, many people who live in the United States make decisions for food purchases based on price, and assesability. They are not as concerned with the environment because they are not able to see the results of this type of food system as often as some.

Works Cited:




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