The food industry is a complex, diversified sector that enhances production, processing and distribution of the food energy consumed by the world’s population. The food industry is among the largest industries in the world because it not only plays a vital role towards everyone’s health but also because it employs billions of people; hence, creating jobs (Maddox, 1994, p, xi). The expansion of this industry emerged few decades ago, after it transformed from a food production industry through agriculture towards a globalized industry that encompassed vast sectors like technology and transport. Therefore, as the world embraced globalization, the food industry did not lug behind. The objective of this paper is to analyze major transformations depicted by the food industry and elaborate how globalization relates to fast food and obesity. More so, the paper will outline the ideological underpinning of the slow food movement and the critics involved.
Major transformations that the food industry has undergone in recent years
200 years ago, farmers locally produced food and sold it to the local market. However, the industry has gradually undergone a major transformation in recent years due to globalization and urbanization. This is the case because people no longer live in places where the food grows because globalization has led people to migrate to urban cities. This means that food is currently produced, processed and distributed to diverse populations through the aid of globalization that include biotechnology, technology advancement and the availability of convenient transport (Maddox, 1994, p, xi). The transformation of food industry keeps transforming due to changing lifestyles, demographics, expanding incomes and education levels, which trigger an increase in consumer demands for quality, variety and safety of food. Therefore, diversification of people into diverse demographic locations has led the food industry to find ways of producing, processing and distributing valuable and hygienically packaged food that meets the consumers’ demands.
Apparently, the food industry did an outstanding thing by embracing globalization because food availability has become an easy task. This relevance depicts through the fact that people can now acquire any food of choice at their own convenience because food is within peoples’ reach. Food is found in kiosks, grocers, restaurants and big outlets like the supermarkets. Therefore, globalization enhanced availability of reliable and fast transport that greatly aided the food industry by easing food distribution. The other relevance that food industry transformation triggered is that it improved the way food undergoes packaging (Maddox, 1994, p, xi). Unlike in the past when food had no means of preservation, modern food is hygienically packed and last longer. This means that people can consume packaged food without worrying about health implications caused by poor sanitation or staleness. Generally, transformation of food industry has greatly eased people’s lifestyle by allowing them to get the food they desire on their own convenience unlike in the past where people had to live within the farming location or travel to the farmers’ markets in order to acquire food.
The relationship between fast food and globalization
Globalization is the major driver that triggered a fast moving world and the fast food industry is not exempted. This means that the world we live in today has accepted and adapted fast food as part of its food customs. This is a fact because eating traditional food in major cities is becoming a hard task because such places are full of fast food eat-inns (Inglis & Gimlin, 2009, p, 258). Fast food is becoming people’s option due to its availability, convenience and cheap price tags compared to natural food. The other reason that contributes to fast food dominating the food culture is that technology has advanced insistent advertising that succeed in diminishing the natural food culture. The renowned McDonalds food chain possesses distinctive clip adverts that capture unintended appetite. Therefore, globalization not only enhanced diverse modernization but also deconstructed the healthy food culture by turning it from natural to fast food (Inglis & Gimlin, 2009, p, 258). The intensity of the relationship between globalization and fast food shows in a developing country like china where its strong traditional food culture is slowly eroding because the Chinese are embracing modernization that encompasses change in lifestyle and food preferences.
On another perspective, adaption of fast food through globalization has a major negative effect of health implications to both the developed and the developing countries. The main health complication that fast food fosters is obesity, a disease that has triggered an intensive research and debates from scholars. Scholars have differed in the sense that while others observe obesity as a disease caused by sociological incline, other scholars argue that the disease is hereditary. However, the real fact is that obesity is a disorder where an individual puts on excess weight or gets fat by consuming more food than the body system requires, or consumes food containing high fat and sugar; hence, storing the excess residue as calories. Obesity is creating serious global attention because it rates as the fifth main cause of death in developed countries. Over the past two decades, the epidemic is spreading to the developing countries; hence, becoming a global concern. The food industry is blamed for this disaster because it embraced globalization by improving peoples’ living conditions that ended up eliminating communicable diseases but still fostering non-communicable diseases like obesity by processing fast food that are cheap and available yet full of unhealthy fat and sugar (Inglis & Gimlin, 2009, p, 258). Though cases of filling lawsuits against the “big food” companies like McDonalds are arising, the concerned parties should broaden their horizons and realize that globalization plays a major role in the pandemic. This is a fact because economic globalization triggers cheap prices, while social globalization triggers lifestyle habits, TV viewing and a fast food culture. Therefore, despite that social globalization contributes a higher percentage in promoting obesity, the Big food companies play the role of distribution to the final consumer; hence, the consumers should play the major part of curbing obesity by consuming healthy food (Inglis & Gimlin, 2009, p, 258).
Principles that support the slow food movement
Several aspects contribute to the development of the slow food movement but the main phenomenon supporting the movement is food justice. This phenomenon chips in as a result of the movement’s aim of changing peoples’ perception towards fast food and encouraging them to eat natural organic food acquired from farmers’ markets and other producers (Jayaraman, 2013, p, 19). According to the union’s objective, people should shun away from the usual cheap, mass-produced non-organic stuff. A recent speech in TEDx Manhattan, by the movement’s president Josh Viertel depicts how the slow food movement has the potential to turn the fast food phenomenon around by making sustainable agriculture a widely accepted movement. More so, the president looks forward to advocate for Farm Bill education as well as creating slow food eat-ins where people can eat healthy natural food in eating joints within their reach. Despite the entire efforts outlaid by the union and its members, critics still prevails. These critics claim that organic slow food is natural but expensive and convincing people to squeeze out more money to purchase natural food becomes a tussle for the union. Nevertheless, the slow food movement is barely four years old and there is hope that it will manage to reach its goal of killing the fast food culture that has dominated the developed countries (Jayaraman, 2013, p, 19).
Globalization is an advocate of speed, an aspect that accelerates urbanization, transport system, technology and the food industry. However, despite its positivity in modifying life, it has also brought along damaging effects like the presence of big food companies that end up offering fast food that promote health complications. Despite the presence of anti-fast food movements like the slow food movement, people are yet to embrace natural lifestyles and healthy eating. This leads to the conclusion that the food industry has one remaining transformation phase of learning and embracing nutrition (Inglis & Gimlin, 2009, p, 260). Though this phase will negatively affect many big food companies, the obesity pandemic will reduce at a higher percentage. Therefore, the concerned parties should utilize the availability of modern information technology to educate the world on the importance of eating healthy.
Inglis, D., & Gimlin, D. L. (2009). The Globalization of Food. Oxford: Berg.
Jayaraman, S. (2013). Behind the Kitchen Door. Cornell university press.
Maddox, I. (1994). Practical Sanitation in the Food Industry. CRC Press.