Trosterud: Globalization of the food market has potentially dangerous consequences

As humans have evolved so too has their ability to build and use new technologies. These advancements have contributed to a world that is more globalized than ever. Goods from one side of the world can reach the other in mere hours, transforming trade and the way in which humans live. While these advancements have promoted a lot of good, the rapid industrialization and globalization of our world have also produced a lot of bad.

One of the main advancements technology has brought is the movement of food. If you walk into any grocery store in the United States, it's possible to get a wide variety of fruits that may or may not be in season locally and may or may not even grow in your climate. While the apples that we Geneseo students consume in December may seem like a treat, it is important to remember the negative side effects of globalization.

"The Dr. Oz" show recently highlighted one of the many concerns that are linked with the globalization of food products. On the show, apple juice was analyzed and found to contain high levels of arsenic. While the Food and Drug Administration did cite the show's findings as erroneous, we still have to pose the question, how truly safe is the food we eat?

The standards that the U.S. sets for food safety differ from the standards in other countries, while at the same time, different types of food production and growing habits have developed in countries with different needs. For instance, in the U.S. the use of the pesticide DDT is prohibited, yet in countries in Africa where the threat of malaria is greater than that of DDT, it is still used.

 By importing large quantities of foods from other nations we may be putting ourselves at risk. Even the transportation of foods across the United States can lead to concerns in food quality. While the production of food may be controlled, in order for the food to travel large distances quality may be sacrificed. Fruits or vegetables that are picked before they are ripe have less health benefits and may have less flavor than those served ripe. In order to avoid these dangers, our food system may need to be reconstructed and refocused on a smaller scale model that stresses local production of food.

The "local grocery store" has almost completely disappeared in lieu of large globally based companies. Rather than producing crops that would grow in our own communities, we import food from across the world, limiting our control over the products that we consume. This type of food system creates the opportunity for many problems to arise – arsenic content being just one.

Rather than depending entirely upon importing, communities should return to a balance of local production, subsidizing when needed. By growing what food we can ourselves, the quality can be better ensured, leading to a decrease in risks like poisonous apple juice.