Politics of Food Research Paper

Pages: 5 (1706 words)  ·  Bibliography Sources: 1+  ·  Level: College Junior  ·  Topic: Agriculture

Political Science

Politics of Food

Food politics refers to the political aspects that are related to the manufacture, control, regulation, inspection and delivery of food. These politics are often influenced by the ethical, cultural, medical and environmental factors that concern appropriate farming, agricultural and retailing methods and regulations. Government guidelines often have a major influence in the making, safety, and allocation of food. The government often has power over the appropriate storage and preparation of foods. The enforcement of these rules has been strongly influenced by the public. As a result the examination of food has become a job of the government (Political Economy of Food, 2010).

Whether it is pursuing the 100-Mile Diet or eating less meat, declining bottled water, eating organic or sustaining a ban on genetically modified food, the awareness about the impact of the food and drink that is consumed has come to the forefront of mainstream consciousness. With this brand new food fluency comes the need for amplified awareness and responsibility. Every consumer choice that is made has political and environmental consequences (Williams, 2008).

Food system restructuring has not emerged as a hot topic in the minds of most. Reforming the food system will be a very difficult thing to accomplish. Low-priced food will remain fashionable as long as its costs are charged to the future. In a recent New York Times editorial, it was pointed out that there is an abundance of money to be made not only in selling fast food but also in taking care of the diseases those foods cause. The market for prescription drugs and medical devices that are used to manage Type 2 diabetes is seen as a very profitable for the American economy. The government is dedicated to continuing to encourage America's fast-food diet with its farm policies even as it takes on added responsibilities for covering the medical costs of that diet. Similarly, food production has a calculated relationship with climate change and the energy crisis. One-third of greenhouse gases that are produced by farming and food processing along with nineteen percent of fossil fuels go to feeding ourselves (Smyth, 2009).

Food is often considered to be life and hope. It puts down the poor and lower classes in our societies. They often do anything and pay any price to get a piece of bread for dinner. It has always been such a capable weapon used to pressure third world populations, poor people, and those who cannot afford thinking about their civil and political rights or their cultural rights. How it makes people, changes their destinies, their entire fate. In the sixties and the seventies, some of the leaders of third world countries started to use a new term the new colonization, to express the act of domination of powerful countries over developing ones through economic pressure using methods other than military invasion, or involving them in exhausting debts like conditioned financial aids in order to control and orient its economic and external policies, or using foreign investments for the same purposes.

The lower classes in society often think that civil and political rights are but a luxurious process that they cannot afford to buy into. Before satisfying their basic social and economic rights they cannot think about political reforms, freedom of expression, development and so on. Very often wheat is used as a political tool rather than a nutritional one. It is often seen as an indicator of the political pressures being exerted on nations to obtain the wheat, and it is an important element of the nutritional security of a nation (Kassem, 2005).

Food security is often seen as the access of everyone to sufficient food for an active and healthy life. A very sensible way of looking at food security is to differentiate the concepts of food availability and food accessibility. Availability has to do with the physical existence of adequate food supplies. Availability can also refer to the incidence of food all over the world, which can be dispersed through the international trading system or as food aid. In general, adequate availability of food depends on successful agricultural manufacture. There are four basic sets of factors that pressure agricultural productivity and availability. These do this by either by deterring or enhancing its development. These factors include soil factors, including such things as the physical properties of soil, its texture, slope, chemical properties and nutrient content, plant factors, referring to species and the genetic variation that may exist within species, climatic factors, includes such factors as moisture supply, temperature, solar radiation and carbon dioxide concentration, and socioeconomic factors which includes the price of agricultural inputs and products, farm income, availability of credit, and infrastructure for disseminating information about new knowledge and practices (Food Security and Political Stability in the Asia-Pacific, n.d.).

Food security and traditional national security has traditionally been seen as two separate and unrelated things. Yet, increasingly security experts are re-examining traditional notions of security and are, in some instances, expanding the definition to encompass non-military threats to the welfare of the nation-state. Many experts have argued that a national security issue is any trend or event that threatens the very survival of the nation or threatens to drastically reduce the welfare of the nation in a fashion that requires a centrally coordinated national mobilization of resources to mitigate or reverse. For many countries, food security is seen as a national security issue along with other policies that reflect a sense of national vulnerability when it comes to the availability or lack of food supplies. In other countries, like China, statistics about food are considered so sensitive that they are deemed state secrets (Food Security and Political Stability in the Asia-Pacific, n.d.).

Perhaps out of concern about their own food security vulnerability, many countries have attempted to chase what they view as the model of self-sufficiency even in the face of evidence that such policies are extremely useless. The driving force behind self-sufficiency has often been used by many leaders as a good reason for subsidizing inefficient domestic producers. This reflects a feeling among many countries that a minimum level of food self-sufficiency is a requirement for national security. This helps to explain why a lot of countries in certain regions have often restricted food imports in the interest of promoting food self-sufficiency. Ironically, thought, the reality is that countries in these regions, because of their large populations and disproportionately small quantity of useable land, are increasingly turning to imports in order to satisfy their food needs. Some countries have quietly abandoned the idea of self-sufficiency altogether. China, for instance, has reduced its cereals self-sufficiency goal from 100% to 92% (Food Security and Political Stability in the Asia-Pacific, n.d.).

Food security and political stability often go hand in many countries. In the past, significant malnutrition and famine has been rooted in the interruption of food supplies because of wars and civil unrest. However, the concepts of food security and political stability are often equally reliant and supporting. Food security can pressure the political stability of many countries. While, political instability such as wars or other forms of civil problems can influence food security. It has been found that the greatest risk for government stability is the risk of urban riots. These riots are sometimes ignited by food shortages or sudden price increases among food goods. Generally it is thought that starvation within a country does not directly result in political instability. This is because those who undergo the impact of food shortages often live in rural areas and have very little political voice. A recent example of this happening occurred in India where rising food prices led to urban riots that were directed at India's ruling political party. Likewise, when the price of rice soared in Indonesia, thereby making it prohibitively costly for a large segment of the population, food riots erupted in eastern Java. The government organized military forces around markets in order to prevent looting. Furthermore, China's sharp rejection of the idea that China needs to import massive amounts of grain from the world market in the coming century was partly embedded in a persistent fear within the Chinese government that food insecurity could potentially provoke widespread anger against the Communist Party and perhaps lead to civil unrest. The understanding that many Asian governments have about food security is thought to be linked to fears of social instability and perhaps even political uprising. Food security thus often becomes an issue of regime survival instead of just an issue of nutritional advancement (Food Security and Political Stability in the Asia-Pacific, n.d.).

Food is definitely a very political instrument. It has been used as such in many countries throughout the world. It often affects those countries that are very poor more than it does other countries. Food should be seen as a source of nutrition and sustenance in order to sustain life instead of a weapon that countries can use to gain political power. Because of the fact that not everyone has… [END OF PREVIEW]

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