Consumerism, Food Security and the Environment
“Environment and Consumption” – R. Robbins
- How the main products we buy and the foods we cultivate and
eat affect the environment, individual health and society.
- Modern agriculture is based on the use of chemical fertilizers,
pesticides and herbicides.
- Consumption rates differ between industrial and non-
- “Our consumption of goods is a function of our culture” – not
all cultures are consuming resources at the same rate.
- Even though mass consumption generates destruction we have
become dependent on it because it is the basis of economic
growth within the current global capitalist system.
- Problems of beef and sugar production and consumption from
environmental depletion and the human health consequences.
- How our food choices are products of The Culture Industry -
eating for pleasure (taste, texture and food addictions) versus
eating for the nutritional requirements of a healthy body.
- ‘Big Sugar’ – is tied to numerous sectors of economy and the
production – distribution – sales chain. The history of sugar
production is tied to colonialism, environmental destruction,
slavery and forced labour, forced migration and displacement,
forest and animal habitat destruction etc.
- Sugar is primarily used as a sweetener, a food preservative in
- sugar as a “drug food” – “it deadens hunger pangs without
providing nutrition” and produces a sensation of well being for
short the term.
- Sugar is also a “dead food” hence its extremely long shelf life
and its use as a food preservative.
- For ancient humans honey and sugar in fruit was a rare and
occasional pleasure – today it is an additive that is consumed
beyond the point of the human body’s ability to handle it: over- consumption causes metabolic syndrome, diabetes, heart disease
- Average consumption in North America is 70 lbs per person –
now we have ‘high fructose corn syrup’ added to many foods
which is also a major health concern.
-The Beef complex – even greater environmental damage than
- Beef production and protein conversion - 80% of grain
produced goes to livestock production which also requires
massive land use and massive water consumption.
- Grain fed (versus grass fed) beef consumption and health
consequences – heart disease, cancer, osteoporosis, over
consumption of hormones and antibiotics, mad cow
disease, E coli poisoning etc…
- Beef and methane gas production contributes to global
warming and massive corn farming (now cows pollute more
- Beef ranching and the annihilation of the Buffalo herds upon
which Native populations depended in