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Food Politics Essays

Much powerful written work on identities and social struggles does not take the form of the scholarly article or book chapter. This section will focus on the work of students, researchers, affiliates and any other writers who use unconventional and non-scholarly forms in their work on the food-identity-cultural process nexus. This section would include mainly short pieces of writing, including autobiographical writing and short essays. Pure fiction and poetry, because it is subject to very different criteria of merit form non-fictional forms –  cannot be published.  Examples of the work to have solicited is Rustum Koozain’s writing on food in Cape Town.

 

 

 

 

 

 

  • Gender, Feminism and Food Studies: A Critical Review.By Lewis, D. 2015.Desiree Lewis is Principal Researcher on the Mellon Foundation-funded “Food Politics and Cultures” Project located within the Centre of Excellence in Food Security at the University of the Western Cape.

 

  • JUNK.By Jamal, A.Ashraf Jamal is a ‘cultural analyst’ – writer, editor, and journalist. Jamal teaches cinema, photography, media, and visual culture at the Cape Peninsular University of Technology.  He is the former editor of Art South Africa; co-author of Art in South Africa: The future present(David Philip Publishers); co-editor of Indian Ocean Studies (Routledge); and author of Love themes for thewilderness (Kwela & Random House), Predicaments of culture in South Africa(Unisa-Brill), The Shades (Brevitas), and 100 GoodIdeas Celebrating 20 years of Democracy(Umuzi).

 

 

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Is the FDA taking enough precaution in food industrialization to keep our health safe?

When you enter a local marketplace what is the first thing you see when you walk in? Chips? Candy? Cookies? How often do you see the fruits and vegetables, “out of stock” or “sold out,” hardly ever. Often times we go for the junk food first before even touching the healthy foods because junk food is cheaper and more convenient for local food shoppers. Why is it that we are so quick to buy the unhealthy foods and yet hesitate to buy the foods that are good for us?      Many times we buy convenience foods because it’s more affordable, but then we complain that it makes us gain weight to an extent that we fall into the obese category. If you think about it where does the root of food production begin, and why are some foods cheaper than others if they all come from the same place–earth. Is the FDA doing enough to protect our bodies from being exposed to chemicals and harms that shouldn’t be consumed?

To begin with, the most widely spread crop in the United States is corn crop. In the article, “ When a Crop Becomes King,” Michael Pollan briefly elaborates on how taxpayers pay farmers billions in dollars towards investments in corn crops. Over the past years our food supply has undergone “cornification” in the food production process. Corn is also known as an “invisible” ingredient because it’s in majority of ingredients and anything we consume. Our farmers are producing mass amounts of corn that often times leads to overproduction; however, they use that corn to feed farm animals to add to their mass food production.

High fructose corn syrup,(HFCS) is a sweetener that is derived from corn that has pushed all sugar aside.It undergoes lab processing in order to turn its glucose into fructose to create a paste that is similar to sugar. HFCS is much cheaper to make than sugar; so,  food manufacturers prefer to use high fructose corn syrup products instead of sugar. Most soft drink manufacturers replaced their sugar to corn sweeteners; likewise, so have snack productions because it saves the company thousands of dollars opposed to using sugar. “By far the best strategy for keeping zea mays (the botanical name for both sweet and feed corn) business has been the development of high fructose corn syrup.”(Pollan 7). He states here how desperately we as well as other food producers depend so heavily on corn crops in order to make profits. What ingredients contain corn you may ask? Corn is behind most popular ingredients like high-fructose corn syrup, Monosodium glutamate (processed “flavor enhancer), citrate, Dextrose (glucose) etc. In addition, to common sweeteners, there are also preservatives, color additives, flavor enhancers, and nutrients.

Food ingredients have been used for many years to preserve, give flavor to our foods, add color and tone our meals. It has played an important role in reducing nutritional deficiencies among consumers. Food and color additives are  carefully handled and regulated in order to assure consumers a safe amount is added to their foods. Furthermore, all food manufacturers are accountable for following all safety measures and procedures; scientific understanding and methods of testing new mixtures continue to improve. In the article  “Overview of Food Ingredients, Additives & Colors,” it points out how “Regulations known as Good Manufacturing Practices (GMP) limit the amount of food ingredients used in foods to the amount necessary to achieve the desired effect.” This can definitely put consumers at ease knowing that their food won’t be handled carelessly and that food industries  have a limit in exactly how much additive they can apply to the food to give it a tasteful effect.

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In other cases, the FDA makes safety evaluations to determine the safety of a substance and whether or not it qualifies to be sold in markets. “Because of inherent limitations of science, FDA can never be absolutely certain of the absence of any risk from the use of any substance. Therefore, FDA must determine – based on the best science available – if there is a reasonable certainty of no harm to consumers when an additive is used as proposed.”  (Food Additives & Ingredients)  If it weren’t for FDA evaluations, consumers would expose themselves with harmful ingredients that maximized the limit of amounts that can be used. Besides maintaining the quality of food – antioxidants – a group of preservatives – helps to prevent fats and oils from developing an off-flavor.

In the article, “The Pleasures of Eating,” by Wendell Berry, he talks about industrial food consumers and how we should be more active in our eating. “The specialization of production induces specialization of consumption.” (Berry 5). Berry points out that we are passive, uncritical and dependent on food industrialization, but our unconsciousness of what we put in our mouth puts our health at risk. The big issue is food processing extent and purpose of how, and what is happening to our food–more importantly to us a a result of the processing. When our foods are processed they are regulated into three categories unprocessed, processed culinary, and ultra-processed. Unprocessed foods that are made by a person with reasonable cooking skill in a kitchen with whole-food ingredients that don’t change the nutritional value of it. Processed culinary ingredients are usually foods found in the center aisles at grocery stores and are more likely to contain ingredients that you wouldn’t have in your kitchen; however, I would recommend sticking to unprocessed foods, that are more organic and nutritious. Processed foods have long ingredient lists that include different types of vegetable oils, such as corn oil, cottonseed oil, soybean oil, canola oil or safflower oil.  The last category is Ultra products that combine processed and unprocessed ingredients like sugar and sweets.