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How We See Food

Pile of Food

How We See Food

By: Oren Allen

When I first heard that the topic for my college writing class was food, my immediate reaction was confusion and some disappointment. How is this entire class going to be based on food, and how am I going to write a ten-page research paper on it. I love looking into complex and controversial topics and I love discussing and debating them, but food just seemed boring. What could I argue about, pizza toppings? But as we began to talk, my initial judgment was quickly replaced by curiosity as well as frustration. What I learned was if we aren’t angry about food, we aren’t looking hard enough at it.  

When I thought of food, I was seeing it in a superficial way. I was privileged enough to be able to see it just as something I bought from a grocery store, ate, and that was it, but food isn’t just food. It also involves a combination of connected and often controversial topics. It involves food access, hunger, agriculture and its environmental effects, genetically modified food, food waste, marketing, and much more. Unfortunately, the reality for the United States (which has been the focus of most of my research in the class) is that when it comes to food, our system is deeply flawed. We support industrial agriculture which is incredibly inefficient in providing food to people and it is not environmentally sustainable, and an immense amount of the food we produce is wasted. In addition, there are millions of people in the United States who live without stable access to sufficient foods, yet many of our policies work against solving this problem.  

When it comes to food, there are serious problems that need to be analyzed and addressed. Unfortunately, in the United States food has become so industrialized that for many people it has lost its value. The topic of food has become oversimplified and, in many cases, ignored. If we can’t see the problems that exist in our food system, we can never work towards fixing them. We need to start looking at food not just on a surface level, but from every angle possible. We need to look at how it is being produced, distributed, and used, and the real-world implications of our food policies. When we see the true depth of food and realize just how complex it is in our society, we will realize just how angry food should make us. Only then can we embark upon the long and difficult road to fixing it.