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My topic is about: GMOs in the U.SThis is class of Nutritional Anthropology. Need to focus on foods aspects, (to food and culture, or food and nutrition, or food and physiology, or food and policy or practices )to discussion the GMOs in the U.S. The detailed writing instruction is post in the attached file, need high quality of work, this is my final essay, very important. No limits on the number of source you use, can use more than 5 or less than 5.Total need 9 full pages. The detailed writing instruction is post in the attached file, please check. Need MLA format.
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Briana Ramos
Anthropology 220: Nutritional Anthropology
Processed Foods in an Industrialized Food System
Introduction
With the growth in demand for cheap, convenient food in America, processed foods have
made their way into nearly every home and grocery store in the United States. Torey Armul, a
spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics defines processed foods as, “any food
that has been purposely changed in some way prior to consumption.” (Academy of Nutrition and
Dietetics, 2016). Foods are processed primarily in order to lengthen the shelf life of food,
improve its appearance and enhance the flavor. Although, there are two different spectrums of
processed foods. First, there are lightly processed foods such as pre-cut vegetables, roasted nuts
and bagged spinach, which are solely pre-prepared for convenience purposes. This paper will
focus on is the other side of processed foods- chemically processed and artificially enhanced
foods. Processed foods are a product of industrialized agriculture and the globalization of food.
These foods oftentimes contain hidden additives and ingredients that can eventually lead to
health problems such as type 2 diabetes, cancer and antibiotic resistance. As the United States
faces an obesity epidemic, it is important for consumers to understand what is behind the food
they are eating- especially in an era where false advertising and misleading food labels are used
to trick consumers into purchasing unhealthy products.
What is Hidden in Processed Foods
Processed foods come with many hidden ingredients that the consumer may not
recognize when they are purchasing them. First, additives are put into processed foods in order to
preserve flavor, taste and to enhance appearance. For example, monosodium glutamate (MSG) is
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a common additive that enhances flavor in processed foods around the country. This additive is
hard to avoid because MSG hides in U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved
ingredients; in this case, the manufacturer only has to list the ingredients used without having to
list the ingredients within it. The FDA states that MSG occurs naturally in some ingredients such
as yeast and soy extracts and in these cases, MSG is not required to be listed on the label (U.S
Food and Drug Administration, 2012). Many foods with additives are intended to have an
extremely prolonged shelf-life or never rot- this is not the way that real food is supposed to be.
An additive found in pasteurized, homogenized milk is rBGH- a synthetic hormone that
increases the production of milk in cows. The FDA approved the use of this growth hormone in
1993 (U.S. Food and Drug Administration, 2009), despite the fact that it is not permitted in
Canada and the European Union. An issue that arises through the treatment of cows with rBGH
is that it increases the risk of udder infection, therefore causing them to get treated with
antibiotics, which leads to antibiotic resistant bacteria. Milk from cows that have been injected
with the rBGH hormone have higher levels of IGF-1. Studies have shown that there is a
correlation between the development of breast, prostate and other cancers and cases where higher
than normal levels of IGF-1 are found. A controlled-study within the Physicians’ Health Study
found that there is a positive correlation between the increased risk of prostate cancer and IGF-1
(U.S. Food and Drug Administration, 2009). Though this hormone may increase milk
production, in the process, it destroys beneficial digestive enzymes and vitamins. One of the
biggest problems that emerges in processed foods is that it causes food to lose its nutritional
value and leaves it with little-to-no nutritional value by the time that it has reached the consumer.
The issue with processed foods is the fact that they do not contain nutritional value, rather
they contain added sugars, salts, etc. Processed foods contain added sugars or artificial
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sweeteners, which are very different than naturally occurring sugars, such as sugars found in
fruit. Added sugars are often hidden on the label of processed foods with names such as “high
fructose corn syrup” making it harder for the consumer to realize what they are really eating.
Without knowing it, Americans are consuming much more sugar than their daily recommended
allowance, which could eventually cause addiction to sugar. Euromonitor conducted a study on
the amount of sugar that each country intakes and concluded that in the United States, the
average person consumes more than 126 grams (thirty-two teaspoons) of sugar per day (The
Washington Post, 2015). Compare this number to the daily recommended allowance of sugar for
a healthy heart- thirty-six grams (nine teaspoons) for a man and twenty-five grams (six
teaspoons) of sugar for a woman (American Heart Association, 2016). The consumption of sugar
should be more closely regulated in children and adolescents. The American Heart Association
suggests that children should have less than twenty-five grams of added sugar daily for a healthy
heart, while children under two should stay away from added sugar completely (American Heart
Association, 2016). In the article, The Use and Misuse of Fruit Juice in Pediatrics, the American
Academy of Pediatrics states that fruit juice is marketed as a healthy, nutritional beverage for
children, when in reality the second most prevalent ingredient in most fruit juices are refined
carbohydrates such as fructose. Although, this false advertising has caused children to become
majority consumers of fruit juice- the article states that children younger than twelve years old
account for only about eighteen percent of the total population, but consume twenty-eight
percent of all juice and juice drinks (American Academy of Pediatrics, 2001). It is vital to
monitor consumption of sugars because sugar releases dopamine, which can ultimately create an
addiction to sugar when a person over-consumes it. Based on the copious amounts of sugar that
American’s are consuming, insulin resistance is becoming a common health problem. This is
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because the consumption of too much sugar can cause the body to become insulin resistant,
therefore impacting the body’s ability to process insulin. There has been debate over whether the
over consumption of sugar is to blame for the rise in type 2 diabetes cases. However, a study
published by the Journal of Clinical Investigation found that excess sugar in the liver causes
insulin resistance, which can ultimately progress to diabetes (The Journal of Clinical
Investigation, 2016). While not all sugars are bad for a person’s health, it is added sugars, which
are found in nearly all processed foods, that are extremely unhealthy.
Health Problems Associated with Processed Foods
Many health concerns have been linked to the growth in consumption of processed foods
by Americans. The United States is currently in an obesogenic state meaning that surplus and the
convenience of food are prioritized over foods with greater nutritional value. Due to this
environment, overnutrition has become a cause of obesity. Overnutrition was defined in lecture
as the excess of nutrients which are not nutritionally adequate or balanced with expenditure
(Ulibarri, 2017). As opposed to consuming nutrient rich foods, consumers are eating processed
foods that are energy dense and low in nutrients. In an obesogenic environment, the intake of
energy dense foods is oftentimes unbalanced with energy expenditure (Ulibarri, 2017). This
means that a person is consuming more energy from food than they are expending through
physical activity, which ultimately leads to weight gain. The Centers for Disease Control and
Prevention (CDC) states that in America, 36.5% of adults are obese and 17% of adolescents are
obese (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2016). According to the World Health
Organization, processed foods are to blame for the spike in obesity levels and chronic disease
around the world (BBC News, 2003). The CDC also states that along with obesity come many
other related conditions such as heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes and poor mental health
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(Centers for Disease Control, 2016). Therefore, not only is obesity a health problem in itself, but
it can also cause other life threatening conditions.
Cancer is another health problem found in correlation with processed foods; some
synthetic chemicals used in the processed foods industry have carcinogenic properties. The
American Cancer Association suggests reducing the consumption of processed and preserved
meat due to the risk of exposure to cancer causing agents. These cancer causing agents such as
nitrites are added to hot dogs and lunch meat in order to maintain color and prolong shelf-life
(American Cancer Association, 2016). Cattle are meant to be grass fed, but over the past few
decades, industrialized agriculture practices have switched their natural diets to a grain based
diet. A grain based diet increases cattle’s susceptibility to bloating, acidosis and diseases, but
antibiotics and growth hormones ensure that they continue to grow and stay alive (Ulibarri,
2017). An FDA report states that from 2009-2012, sale of antibiotics to farmers for animal use
grew by sixteen percent (U.S. Food and Drug Administration, 2012). Due to the overuse of
antibiotics that are necessary to keep cattle alive under these living conditions, humans are
experiencing the effects through resistance to antibiotics. This is due to the overuse of antibiotics
in industrialized agriculture, which has ultimately led to antibiotic resistance in humans from the
consumption of meat. To put this issue into perspective, the CDC reports that at least two million
people in the U.S. contract bacterial infections that are resistant to antibiotics; of those, 23,000
people die as a direct result of those infections (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention,
2017). Not only are processed foods and industrialized agriculture causing health problems in
humans and animals, but they are also causing resistance to the antibiotics used to cure these
health issues.
False Advertising in Processed Food
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Advertising is the ally of processed foods. Labels on processed foods oftentimes trick the
consumer into thinking that they are eating something healthy. Take into consideration “lowcalorie,” “low-fat,” and “light” labels on foods- consumers believe that they are choosing a
healthier option when they purchase these items. Food labels like these are pushing consumers to
buy processed foods without knowing the real repercussions that those products have on their
bodies. There is little to no nutritional value in processed foods, but as American society has
created a stigma around calories and fats, processed foods with the labels “low-fat” and “lowcalorie” appeal to the consumer. In reality, foods high in calories and fat can be beneficial to the
body if they are full of essential nutrients or if they are unsaturated fats, like an avocado. In the
article Attention Shoppers: Be Wary of Health Claims on Food Packaging, Beverly Merz writes
about the misconception of what health food is in the United States. Fats are commonly avoided
because they are believed to be unhealthy, but Merz states that unsaturated fats can actually
reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease and diabetes. While in contrast, over-consumption of
refined carbohydrates that are added as flavor enhancers to “low-fat” labeled foods actually
increase the risk of these conditions (Harvard Health Publications, 2017). FDA rulings ultimately
allow corporations to mislead consumers by setting extremely low standards for the ability to use
these labels on their products. For example, the FDA ruled that “healthy” could be used on the
front of packages as long as it contained less than a specified amount of sodium and fat per
serving. Recently, the FDA reported that they are in the process of redefining the meaning of
“healthy” and “natural” on food packaging (Harvard Health Publications, 2017). This is
important because it proves that these labels have clearly been misleading consumers since the
1990’s when the FDA first defined their guidelines.
The Boom of Industrialized Agriculture in the United States
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The issues stemming from our current food system are due to the fact that food has
become delocalized and people are disconnected from their food and where it comes from now
more than ever. Before food became industrialized and altered, natural and organic farming
practices were practiced across the country. The Union of Concerned Scientists (UCSUSA)
states that the first step towards industrial agriculture was the Green Revolution- this was an
international effort to eliminate hunger through the increase in crop production, which was
achieved by the use of fertilizers and pesticides. At this time, high yield crops were valued and
the mass production of food was the main objective. The UCSCA continues to state that
industrialized agriculture grew further in the 1950’s, post World War II, when chemical
agriculture began to dominate over natural, organic farming techniques (Union of Concerned
Scientists, 2017). Now, in our current food system, industrialized agriculture is the main source
of food for most of the United States. Industrialized agriculture places value on maximizing
output and profit as opposed to growing and raising food in a sustainable, humane way.
American’s have come to expect cheap food, when in reality, food is not meant to be cheap.
Michelle Mart, associate professor of history at Pennsylvania State makes a claim on how the
future of the U.S. food system relies on consumer choice, “The idea of cheap food has become a
cultural expectation, but food should be expensive. You can spend less on other things, such as
your Netflix subscription, your cell phone bill, or clothing.” Merz goes on to explain to Lisa
Baldi in the article Investigating the Relationship Between the Environment and the Food
Industry, that the cheap food that American’s are consuming actually comes with a far greater
price- environmental impact, the exploitation of agricultural labor and health risks (Penn State
News, 2017).
Environmental Impacts of Industrialized Agriculture
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As industrialized agriculture practices advance in the United States, the environment is
paying the price. Monoculture is practiced frequently in industrialized agriculture, which is the
growing of single crops on a large scale such as corn, wheat and soybeans. This causes the soil to
lose its essential nutrients, which then causes the need for fertilizers and pesticides in order to
keep out “invasive” plants (Ulibarri, 2017). In order to understand the amount of monoculture
crops planted in the United States, the USDA reports that American farmers plant more than 90
million acres of corn per year (U.S Department of Agriculture, 2017). Industrialized agriculture
practices are major contributors in the climate change epidemic due to the fact that they are
energy intensive and burn off extensive amounts of fossil fuels. In industrialized agriculture,
meat production practices have quickly become CAFO’s, which are defined by the USDA as
concentrated animal feeding operations (U.S. Department of Agriculture, 2017). Here, animals
have restricted mobility, are fed a grain based diet as opposed to a natural grass-fed diet, and are
given copious amounts of antibiotics and hormones to maximize weight gain. In an action plan
report released by the USDA, it is stated that two percent of livestock farms raise forty percent of
animals (U.S. Department of Agriculture, 2005). Raising animals also causes other
environmental impacts such as the degradation of water and land. John Robbins states in his
book, The Food Revolution, that nearly half of all the water used in the United States goes to
raising animals for food (Robbins, 2001). Not to mention, water is further depleted through
pollution and contamination- seventy percent of pollution in rivers and streams comes from the
food industry (Ulibarri, 2017). In order to raise animals, land must be used in order to raise them
on as well as to grow the grain for their feed. A report done by the Economic Research Service
of UDSA states that eighty percent of all agricultural land in the United States is used for the
process of raising animals (Economic Research Service, 1997). Although, there are sustainable
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solutions to these problems that can be led by consumer choice. One sustainable solution is to
follow a predominantly plant based diet and reduce the consumption of meat products (Ulibarri,
2017) in order to reduce the demand, and in return, reduce the mass production of animal
products. Another solution is choosing to buy locally- buying food from a local farmer addresses
the issues of globalization and creates a connection between the consumer and where their food
comes from (Ulibarri, 2017).
The Obesity Paradox
The globalization of food has led the United States towards an environment where food is
affordable, accessible, processed and energy dense. Americans are currently in an obesogenic
environment where there surplus and a wide-range of options are valued (Ulibarri, 2017). This
means that the ideology of food in the United States is one that follows the same constructs of an
obesogenic environment. In an obesogenic environment, cultural and social factors permit and
even push consumers to overeat and place value on quantity, rather than on nutritional value of
food (Ulibarri, 2017). The social power that big corporations involved in industrial agriculture
have further perpetuates the way that Americans choose to eat, while also controlling the options
available to consumers. In our current food system, food is extremely easy to access and fast
foods or processed foods are even easier to access. For example, the obesity paradox states that
“in obesogenic environments, populations living in poverty often have the highest rates of
obesity” (Ulibarri, 2017). Low-income, minority neighborhoods are living in a food desert where
healthy, nutritious food is hard to access and unaffordable for the consumers (Ulbarri, 2017). In
contrast, convenience stores filled with cheap, processed foods are on every corner- the easier
access to these foods leaves consumers with no other options. Not to mention, the increased
advertising of fast food, sodas and processed foods to children in these lower income
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neighborhoods. A study led by researchers at the University of Illinois at Chicago and Arizona
State University found that fast food restaurants in low income areas tended to direct their ads
more towards children than in high income neighborhoods (The Washington Post, 2014). This
marketing technique led by companies such as McDonald’s and Burger King put children living
in low-income neighborhoods at an even greater risk of obesity and unhealthy diets. Living in an
environment like this can cause obesity through epigenetics, which is the way that a person’s
environmental factors and surroundings can influence their gene expression (Ulibarri, 2017).
Environment plays a significant role in the way that food is valued and consumed- living in an
obesogenic environment pushes the consumer towards unhealthy eating habits as well as an
unhealthy lifestyle.
Relation to Nutritional Anthropology
Processed foods are the outcome of the globalization of food, an important theme in
Anthropology 220. Due to the globalization of food, consumers began to value surplus,
convenience and options over foods with nutritional value. This exact ideology around food is
what caused processed foods to succeed i …
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