Health and Environmental Effects of Industrial Food

 

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Health and Environmental Effects of Industrial Food

Introduction

In striving to increase food production and feed the increasingly growing population, several measures have been adopted to supplement the organic farming. One such measure is the adoption and practice of industrial food production methods. Industrial production and operations seeks to maximize profits by optimally increasing production. From their intensive activities, these activities are prone to cause harm to the environment from their heavy dependence on oil and petroleum products. This coupled with extensive use of antibiotics, chemicals and hormones degrade the environment.

Unfortunately, the current definition of industrial has been extended to include organic agriculture as opposed to the conventional farming. When we make a decision for a healthy eating, it is the first step for a healthier life. Questions that are lingering in practitioners mind is how food grown under this system is safe, sustainable and nutrition to support healthy leaving apart from eating vegetables, fruits, good fats and whole grains. Organic is a term used to describe all those agricultural products that are grown and processed with certain specific requirements. They must be grown on safe soil, be separated from conventional products and posses no modifications. Bioengineered genes (GMOs), sewage based fertilizers, petroleum based fertilizers and synthetic pesticides are not allowed while practicing organic agriculture (Costantini, 2011).  

Problems with Industrial Food and its Production

Over the last three decades, industrial food production has greatly substituted organic farming hence affecting people’s lifestyle especially their eating habits. The increasing production of industrial foods has brought convenience and abundance in the food sector, however, adverse effects have been observed especially with human health. These practices in industrial activities have as well negatively affected the environment to a greater degree endangering bird, animal as well as vegetation. Some of these environmental components are either rare or endangered species due to activities associated with industrial agriculture. As measure of environmental protection, farmers should be encouraged to adopt other safer means of food production, which are not only safer for their health but also environmental friendly. This as well extends to consumers exploring other safer foods that will hurt their health but provide the necessary ingredients and offer proper nutrition (HPF, 2011).   

As indicated earlier in the discussion, the urge to increase production using convenient industrial methods have witnessed foods with contaminations of dangerous antibiotics and artificial hormones harmful to human health. Pesticides, petroleum fertilizers, and other harmful components can be traced from the foods that are detrimental to human health especially when consumed in large quantities. The desire for large-scale production that is profit driven has a great tendency to compromise the quality of food products from such industries (HPF, 2011).

According to GRACE (2003), industrial operations resulting to poor quality have detrimental heath effects adding up to consumer’s stress and depression. These numerous industrial practices result to production of voluminous wastes not properly disposed. In most cases, these wastes contaminates ground water hence residents within the environs of these industries and beyond become vulnerable to deadly bacteria and other dangerous infection including waterborne and airborne disease. In addition, runoffs from the industrial operations may spread antibiotic resistant bacteria to public water supplies, which highly contribute to high levels of heavy dangerous metals like nitrates with a high potential to cause diseases and other infections such as blue baby syndrome (GRACE, 2003).

Industrial activities have also been attributed to emit harmful gaseous substances in the environment. The excessive amount of industrial manure consumed in factories and dumped over time emits harmful gases such as methane, ammonia, carbon dioxide, and hydrogen sulfide. The exposure to these gases in large amounts and for a considerably long time is usually fatal. Due to environmental emission in the industrial environs, people around suffers breathing and respiratory system complications. These among others include throat and lung cancers (GRACE, 2003).           

Canned Food Problems

Among the various canned industrial products like vegetables, soda, meat and fruits, there is a higher probability that they contain toxic food-can lining and ingredients which are associated as causing birth defects in both male and female reproductive systems. The study was conducted by Environmental Working Group (EWG), which targeted biphenyl A (BPA) which a plastic chemical and resin among others the ingredients commonly used to line food metals as well as drink cans. It becomes unfortunate when there are governmental regulation and safety standards that regulate the use of BPA used in canned food for both human and animal production. These harmful chemical (BPA) constitutes a heavily produced industrial chemical which is highly toxic at low doses (EWG, 2011).

Effects of BPA in Human Health

This heavy industrial produced harmful compound is highly associated with numerous health problems and complications. Infertility, prostate and breast cancer are among some of the numerous complications caused by this chemical. BPA exposure causes considerable weight loss especially after a long time of exposure. This in contrast is a statement that, long period exposure to BPA may increase the obesity levels as well. This chemical has also fetal as well as infant brain development and behaviors in most cases. When a pregnant woman is exposed to BPA during pregnancy, the results are detrimental since it results to fetal or neonatal mortality, reduced birth weight, birth defects and hampers infant growth (EWG, 2011).           

BPA is at unsafe levels in one of every 10 servings of canned foods (11%) and one of every 3 cans of infant formula (33%)

http://www.ewg.org/files/bpa_chart4.jpg

Source: Chemical analyses of 97 canned foods by Southern Testing and Research Division of Microbac Laboratories, Inc., North Carolina.

Solutions to Industrial Food

Many challenges with industrial food production are closely associated with congestion where they do not have enough space to dispose off their wastes nor set up waste recycling plants. Hence factories require having considerable large land space. This will as well enhance diversification of their environmental pollution risks hence reduced degradation as well as health complications among people. Due to the effects factory posses when it’s established within a community, internal mitigation measures ought to be established, industries may adopt measures such as corporate social responsibility to ensure they reduced harmful effects they posse to public and environment by giving back to the society.

Use of Organic Farming Techniques

Organic farming involves the agricultural food production practices where healthy living soils are used with friendly bacteria and fungi essential to plant growth. Large organisms like warms are also vital to facilitate aeration and fertilization of soil. This farming is practiced in absence of industrial manufactured and sewerage based fertilizers. This type of farming does not as well allow use of synthetic pesticides as well as bioengineered genes. While practicing organic farming, certain conditions must be met with crops grown on natural living soil with no modifications and separate from any form of conventional methods and products (Paul et al, 2011).

Organic farming has been adopted and practiced in various parts of the world. However, intensity in this industry requires to be emphasized since demand for these products is as well increasing and it has surpassed supply by great margin. The debate of what constitutes to organic food has been on the rise besides its growing procedures and its ultimate health benefits. Although organic grown foods may not be the ultimate solution and fully healthier than industrial food, the former has considerable benefits. These foods contain fewer pesticides and they are mostly consumed fresh. Farming practices for organic agriculture are far much better and friendly than industrial farming. In consideration to animal production, organic practices have considerable low levels of antibiotics and hormones, which are fatal when humanly consumed especially in large quantities (Paul et al, 2011).    

People should be encouraged to set their objectives and goals towards practicing organic farming and consuming organic foods. Since organic farming is sustainable, it’s environmental friendly and beneficial to human health through production of high quality food and little environmental pollution. Conventional is also limited due to its use of industrial manufactured fertilizers which are limited in usage since many plants does not require large quantities of fertilizers. By practicing crop rotation, the quality of products produced shall be improved as well as improving quality and fertility of soil. Pest and disease risks are as well reduced considerably through crop rotation. Due to the increasing health living for consumers, they have adopted and preferred organic products rather than industrial due to its benefits and sustenance (Paul et al, 2011). 

By consumption of organic products as opposed to industrial ones, more nutrient intake is increased which includes antioxidants. Large amount of nutrients contained in organic foods are importantly helpful to individuals with allergic condition for industrial related products, chemicals and preservatives. Fungicides, insecticides and pesticides are minimal in consumption of organic food when compared to industrial ones. This is due to the residues that remain in industrial grown food causing detrimental effects to our bodies (Paul et al, 2011).

By using organic soils, the level of carbon is maintained at low levels that control the rate of global warming hence providing a favorable environment for healthy crop growth and animal production. Organic farming is well preferred due to its ability in soil balancing. This is addition of necessary nutrients to the farming soil after laboratory analysis hence boosting crop quality and nutrientional contents. The use of compost and mulching in organic farming greatly helps to control the level of soil erosion. This is a friendly was of interacting with the environment (Paul et al, 2011).

With the strong recommendation of organic farming, a strong basis is placed on the premise that health soil will produce health and strong plants with ability to resist diseases and pests. Due to the environment under which organic farming is practiced, there is sufficient amount of oxygen, allowing essential and friendly bacteria, and multiply which greatly benefits the plant. Lastly, organic farming produces health and nutrient rich crops due their overall growth methods hence guarantees rich vitamin content, these foods are commonly referred to as nutrient enriched food containing all the necessary nutrients and vitamins to support healthy living (Paul et al, 2011).

Conclusion

The increasing demand for food has resulted to adoption and practice of various food production methods and techniques. Most of these methods are organic although practiced in small scale and the large industrial food production techniques. The industrial produced foods have been witnessed to cause numerous health complications such as cancer, allergies and even death. Industrial operations are also not environmental friendly. These activities produce large amounts of carbon, which is harmful to the environment and highly associated with global warming which is catastrophic. Emission from these industrial activities emits harmful gaseous substances like methane, ammonia and hydrogen sulfide which are poisonous gaseous both to human as well as environment.

Various measures require to be instituted to curb the increasing detrimental effects of industrial food. These as discussed above include among others adoption of organic foods which are both environmental friendly as well as rich in vitamins and nutrients. Governments across the world require formulating and implementing various legislations aimed at regulating industrial activities with regard to quality of food and emission such as organic certification. In addition, industrial activities should be allocated huge pieces of land to ensure waste harmful product are either recycled or well disposed to minimize environmental degradation as well as negative human health effects.  

References

Costantini, M. (2011). Farming Techniques. Retrieved on 13th December, 2011from: http://secondnatureorganic.com.au/farming_techniques

HPF, (2011). Hazardous Pollution from Factory Farms: An analysis of EPA’s national air emission monitoring study, Retrieved on 13th December, 2011from:

http://www.environmentalintegrity.org/documents/HazardousPollutionfromFactoryFarms.pdf

Environmental Working Group (EWG). (2011). A survey of Biphenyl A Canned foods, Biphenyl A: Toxic Plastics Chemical in Canned Food. Retrieved on 13th December, 2011from: http://www.ewg.org/reports/bisphenola

Paul, M. et al. (2011, August). Organic Foods, Retrieved on 13th December, 2011from: http://helpguide.org/life/organic_foods_pesticides_gmo.htm

GRACE, (2003). Sustainable Table, Retrieved on 13th December, 2011from: http://www.sustainabletable.org/issues/health/