Omnivore's Dilemma Analysis

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Part A: Omnivore’s Dilemma is a scathing indictment of the industrial food system we’ve perfected over the last century. Michael Pollan is a prolific author and journalist and muckraker who concentrates his efforts on the food system and the environment. Omnivore’s Dilemma is his tour de force, with which he successfully deconstructs the food system into three principle food chains: The Industrial, Organic, and Hunter-Gatherer. Pollan begins with arguably the most important and certainly the largest section of the food system, Industrial. The Industrial food chain represents, to Pollan, the epitome of what’s wrong with agriculture as demonstrated by a number of technological advancements, Governmental farm legislation, and increasing industrial…show more content…
government has contributed a great deal to the industrialization of agriculture, in large part due to the major legislation changes seen under the Nixon administration, but also corporation biased legislation passed since. The economics of agriculture is, as Pollan points out, quite different from the rules which govern most businesses, that is, farmers end up needing to produce and sell their commodities regardless of price. After the Great Depression under the New Deal policies, farmers were able to ensure a fair market price through a government program which would hand out loans to farmers when the price fell below an established point, allowing them to avoid the low market price and if necessary, the government would simply take the commodity as collateral for the loan (Pollan, pg. 49). The 1970s however marked a turning point in American agriculture, when the agricultural loan program was abolished in favor of direct subsidies to farmers to make up for lost revenue due to market devaluation (Pollan, pg. 51). This institutionalizes the practice of ‘Commodity Dumping.’ Commodity dumping happens when the price for an item continues to fall due to overproduction or decreased demand, but instead of withholding from the market, people panic and sell all of their stock further sinking the prices. This phenomenon is seen occasionally in the stock market, but mostly in the agricultural industry prior to the direct…show more content…
Governmental economic involvement in the 1970s wasn’t only changed by switching from loans to subsidies, it was revolutionized by an idea encapsulated perfectly in the phrase “Get big or get out” (Pollan, pg. 52). This turning point in American agriculture is marked also with the disproportionate support for corporate farms over family farms. A sequence of subsidies and tax-breaks have allowed the creation of a monstrosity Pollan refers to as a CAFO (Concentrated Animal Feeding Operation) aka the industrial feedlot (Pollan pg. 67). These CAFOs represent the cold efficiency of an industrial system, which lumps in excess of a thousand head of cattle in a series of enclosed spaces with ample access to antibiotics, water, and corn (3/5th’s of all corn grown in the U.S. goes to feedlots) (Pollan, pg. 64). These massive industrial complexes are breeding grounds for an innumerable amount of nasty bacteria and viruses due to the close proximity of the cattle. The cattle are routinely given antibiotics as a means of warding off disease, which in contributing quite significantly to antibiotic resistance. The waste that is produce by these sites is never-ending, which often ends up as runoff or sitting stagnant in pools seeping into the ground and local waterways, spreading whatever chemicals the cattle happened to be ingesting that day into the surrounding

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