Crowther Chapter 3 (pp. 65-76) Mobile Ingredients

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Crowther Chapter 3 (pp. 65-76)

Mobile Ingredients


  • Like Crowther, I have lived to see two socioeconomic changes in food choices:

  • The first is the introduction of ever more food options: Globalization of food.

  • As we know (and is the topic of this set of lectures, food has a long global history.

  • But, the rate of exchange is speeding up. As a consequence, during my lifetime some of the “new” foods introduced to this South Dakotan: yogurt, durian, starfruit, salsa, to name a few.

  • The second change is the popularity of heirloom foods: A part of the locavore movement.

  • I distinctly remember browsing a seed catalog and encountering this concept for the first time.

  • It is now common to see heirloom tomatoes in the store (at a hefty price). There is even a heirloom chicken movement originating in Iowa.

  • There have been several revolutions of significance in human history. They have been:

  • The Agricultural Revolution (also called the Neolithic Revolution by V. Gordon Childe) wherein humans began to control and alter their food supplies

  • The Urban Revolution where peoples for the very first time began to live in villages on a permanent basis and then enlarged this to form cities

  • The Industrial Revolution that changed how we manufacture our daily materials and shifted (again) us to even larger cities.

  • The Information Revolution which began with the first printing presses, but really has taken off with the introduction of the computer.

Further Agricultural Intensification 1

  •  The effects of the Industrial Revolution can be seen through the example of Britain.

  • Linked to Britain’s colonial success was a shift in how they produced food.

  • Agriculture in Britain changed very little between the sixth and eighteenth centuries, however there was gradual population growth.

  • This was primarily the result of the introduction of New World foods from the Columbian Exchange.

  • This, in turn, contributed to a decline in infant and child mortality rates, and delivered better resistance to previously deadly diseases.

  • The population of the Old World is estimated to have been 70–88 million in 1492, rising to 435 million by 1900.

  • This population growth presented new issues of food security, which required further agricultural intensification, including the production of food at great distances from the sites of consumption and the emigration of people into new lands.

  • By contrast, in the New World the arrival of new animal and plant species replaced some indigenous food sources.

  • Together with new diseases and aggressive colonization, the inhabitants were decimated.

  • It is estimated that the indigenous peoples of the Americas decreased from a conservative 72 million in 1492 to 4.5 million by 1700, and in what is now the United States from 5 million to less than 125,000 by 1900.

Further Agricultural Intensification 2

  • Western societies became larger and more urban; there was a need to introduce agricultural intensification.

  • This concern became the focus of Thomas Malthus (1766–1834), an eighteenth-century theologian and economist.

  • Thomas Malthus is known as the founder of demography (the study of populations) and is known for his treatise, Essay on the principles of population, written in 1798.

  • At the time Malthus was writing, he was witnessing the growth of the British population, which more than doubled between 1750 and 1850.

  • Malthus feared in Britain there would be too little productive land and too many mouths to feed, resulting in hunger, rather than the wider social context of stratification, capitalism, nationalism, industrialization, and urbanization, for creating poverty.

  • These circumstances became known as the Malthusian dilemma, offering an explanation for further agricultural intensification.

  • His fears primarily concerned the poor, not in a particularly charitable way; mostly concerned the poor would out-produce the elites.

  • Malthus predicted a disaster, due to overpopulation, was imminent. He believed in the consequence of positive checks such as famine, misery, plague and war if populations were not controlled.

  • His idea was that human should implement negative checks such as abstinence through moral restraint and marriage postponement. He did not promote birth control or abortion, given his religious beliefs.

Further Agricultural Intensification 3

  • Behind the changes of the Industrial Revolution lay many interrelated factors, but an important one was the economic ideology of capitalism which is dependent on the following premises:

  1. Inevitable progress, bringing greater well-being, happiness, and success through consumption.

  2. A capitalist’s way of life is better than anything previously known.

  • Capitalism works within market exchange and is based on there being a demand for goods, such as those supplied by specialized workers, and consumers who have money to buy what they need and want.

  • A culture of consumerism is a construct, as a social construct, in the late 1800’s, saw the following changes:

  1. The emergence of the department store.

  2. The emergence of advertising.

  3. The emergence of fashion (or rapid changes in fashion).

  4. The emergence of consumer service, the customer as guest.

  5. New religious movements (e.g., Christian Science, Unity, etc.) emphasized joy, eliminating discussions of guilt or suffering.

  6. Business owners began to understand the commercial potential of holidays.

  • Capitalism added greater competition to exchange by allowing prices to be manipulated.

  • It is based on the idea of making more money out of money.

  • It emerged as part of colonial and imperial expansion, which brought new sources of wealth and further opportunities to turn the world’s resources to a profit.

  • Money or capital makes the whole system work.

  • Capitalism’s success rests upon the economic system being propped up by states and wider organizations, such as the World Bank.

Further Agricultural Intensification 4

  • Of course, it was the raw materials of colonized peoples that fueled the Industrial Revolution.

  • Immanuel Wallerstein suggests that the modern nation is the major building block of the resulting global economy.

  • According to Immanuel Wallerstein's theory of global capitalism:

  • The core of the world economy were/are the colonizers.

  • The periphery were/are the colonies. Today, the periphery is characterized by a:

  1. Narrow, export-oriented economies.

  2. Lack of industrial capacity.

  3. Dependency on foreign debt.

  • We are all aware of the colonial efforts of Western nations since 1492 brought changes to Europe:

  • They cemented their stratified social organization through bringing new wealth to merchants, and consolidated the hold of landowners and the aristocracy.

  • A rise in nationalism established defendable borders around homelands and imperial territories, caught up many ethnic groups and indigenous peoples.

  • There was a massive global migration, both among the willing and the enslaved.

  • Within Europe, the Industrial Revolution resulted in:

  1. A shift from communal land ownership to the elite control of land use.

  2. Technological innovations (the term sabotage comes from angered Dutch workers throwing their sabots (wooden shoes) into the new textile machinery).

  3. Movement of home-based labor (domestic sphere = production sphere) to centralized workshops and the wage earner.

Further Agricultural Intensification 5

  • Capitalism involved a new form of work—waged—and a reorganization of how time is used

  • Wages

  • For capitalism, work is defined by payment—a wage—in return for physical or mental labor to produce something or a service that can be sold for a profit, rather than directly consumed by the worker.

  • Wages came to be paid to agricultural, industrial, and service workers, but they were not equally distributed, and they entrenched a stratified, gendered division of labor, together with ideas about skilled and unskilled work, that continues to dog labor relations across the globe.

  • Agricultural work came to be perceived by many as unskilled, allowing landowners to pay farm workers minimally for their efforts, adding little to the social and economic value accorded to these important activities.

  • Time

  • Any work involves taking time, applying thought and energy, to transform something into something else.

  • For many small-scale societies, the daily pattern of activity centers around producing and often consuming food, and this work is governed by the activity itself.

  • For the wage earner, the passage of time became manufactured, workers’ lives became regulated by work times.

  • The language of time, associated with capitalism—it is spent, wasted, saved—and the adage “time is money,” attest to how important the regulation of time has become in industrial societies.

Further Agricultural Intensification 6

  • Both waged labor and the constraints of a working life changed people’s relationship with food, bringing many to the point of buying most of their food and having less time to cook and eat it as a part of social and cultural life.

  • The proletarian diet based on an industrial cuisine became the standard food of workers.

  • Workers now had to use their wages to buy their food and all other material aspects of life.

  • The isolation of the household from production (domestic sphere ≠ production sphere) further undermined the value accorded to women’s domestic responsibilities.

  • These domestic “chores” continued despite the necessity for many women to work to earn enough money to support their family (today, housework for these women is called the second shift).

  • With industrial agriculture and the capitalist economic system, women’s lives became harder and more invisible.

  • Urban life came to dominate society.

  • The stratification of society, however, meant not everyone could consume equally.

  • In the late-1800s, the rising middle class exhibited their new wealth by hiring household maids and breeding “non-productive” pets.

  • Beginning in the 17th-18th centuries, just having enough food did not signal status, so the types of foods did so: exotic, refined, and delicately prepared foods took on status.

  • The disparity between the foods of the wealthy — the high cuisine — and the foods of the working class, the proletariat or industrial cuisine, became pronounced.

  • Today, we measure this inequality by one’s SES (socioeconomic status): position in the social and economic hierarchy or level of prestige. Occupation, education and/or income are most often used markers of one’s place.

Further Agricultural Intensification 7

  • Social status is the place an individual holds in relation to the other members of a society:

  • Social roles might be: parent, spouse/partner, child, boss, employee, student, and so forth

  • Role conflict/role strain

  • Often role conflict between roles in industrialized societies: parent versus student for instance.

  • Role strain is the tension within a role, such as a test in calculus and a paper in anthropology due at the same time.

  • Social status implies a set of rights and duties associated with the person occupying a certain position within a cultural group.

  • Social status is delineated by gender and age in all societies (book says most but is all)

  • Food and gender

  1. Food practices are linked to gender in that:

  • Food tasks are divided up by gender.

  • Men’s and women’s identities are shaped by the roles they are expected to play.

  • Women’s domestic roles and identities are changing with increased likelihood of working outside the home.

  1. Access to food can be determined by gender.

  • If there is inequality, men usually get first choices, children often second, women get the leftovers

  • In North America, men may choose which foods to serve, get served first, and get seconds.

  • Women go out of their ways to serve foods he will enjoy, rarely serve food he has rejected, and invest large hours in the preparation and presentation of food for him.

  1. Types of foods seen as appropriate for men and women often differ:

  • In the U.S., alcohol and red meat for men; salads for women.

  • Wamirans (PNG) taro is men’s food; among the Culina (Amazonia) women eat vegetables, men eat meat.

Further Agricultural Intensification 8

  • Industrial agriculture took new energy sources, employed mechanization, and used scientific innovation to efficiently produce food surpluses on a scale greater than needed for local consumption.

  • It demanded wider systems of distribution to bridge the distance between production and consumption, facilitating the growth of canals, railways, roads, and other transport and communication initiatives necessary for successful business.

  • Some of the industrial factories were able to mass produce agricultural equipment, enhancing the efficiency of the rural economy.

  • The challenge for the agricultural sector was to produce enough food for the growing urban population from a declining rural working population and a finite land base. Two interrelated solutions were found:

  1. Grow more food elsewhere and import it.

  • Food sources were found overseas, in the colonies, where plantations could produce such important energy foods as sugar. The vast lands of Canada, the United States, Argentina, and Australia were transformed into wheat fields or cattle ranges, or fisheries where wild salmon was harvested and canned, and this food was imported to the core countries.

  • In the colonies, the growing of cash crops took people away from subsistence activities, and contributed to impoverishment and hunger. The importation of food from across the world has continued and is now a constant of all food production.

  1. Artificially boost the productivity of the land.

  • The second solution arose with the creation of chemical fertilizers, which could artificially enhance the soil and allow fields to be used constantly.

  • This use of agricultural chemicals demands high energy inputs to produce the chemicals.

Exporting Industrial Agriculture 1

  • The contemporary form of industrial agriculture, born from the ironically named Green Revolution, has taken methods, technology, and capital from Europe and North America and has exported them to further the provisioning of the now global food supply.

  • It began in the 1940s/1950s in Mexico where a team of us scientists worked to hybridize wheat to produce high-yielding varieties. These new seeds quadrupled Mexican wheat production in two decades.

  • Example of the impact of the Green Revolution: Bali

  • The Green Revolution concentrated on high-yield rice production through use of chemical fertilizers and pesticides.

  • In contrast, a thousand-year process of using ducks. eels, and frogs to maintain the water quality in Balinese rice production was threatened.

  • The Balinese resisted the Green Revolution because it threatened the relationship between religion, ecology and agriculture.

  • Western disconnect between seeing ‘temples as religion’ and ‘rice irrigation as economics’ was at the core of the misunderstanding.

  1. Example of the impact of the Green Revolution: India

  • The Green Revolution was brought to India to increase agricultural productivity without sacrificing industry

  • The new system favored those who had access to irrigation and a larger land base, and further entrenched the higher caste owners as the village elite, but also made them dependent on external factors—such as prices and markets.

Exporting Industrial Agriculture 2

  • The changes wrought upon agriculture with the Industrial Revolution, and the increasing reliance upon foods produced elsewhere, has changed the world’s subsistence practices.

  • Industrial agriculture itself has been exported around the world as a means to produce food, often cheaply and profitably, for the global food industry.

  • Furthermore, many subsistence farmers are now abandoning their traditional crops to grow foodstuffs to supply the ravenous North American and European appetite for exotic fruit and vegetables in any season.

  • This export-oriented agriculture can be considered as a contemporary equivalent to the cottage industry or putting-out system of eighteenth century Europe whereby productive activity is still situated at the domestic level, but its products are suited to more distant consumers.

  • It is a form of proto-industrialization, directing people’s working lives away from their local subsistence needs toward serving a global economic system.

  • After the turmoil of WWII, a 1944 meeting of world leaders at Bretton Woods, New Hampshire, sought to establish a stable global economic system.

  • It had laudable goals to repair the damage of the wars, bringing optimism, progress, and prosperity to all nations, and it was modelled after the ideal of Western-style societies, such as the United States.

  • Rather ethnocentrically it was presumed that this was the desirable way of life, and that it could be achieved through innovative scientific technology and economic development.

  • This attitude relegated all other ways of life and knowledge of survival to being backward and in need of progress.

Exporting Industrial Agriculture 3

  • The proposals at Bretton Woods were, in part, influenced by a much-debated phenomenon called demographic transition (Note: Not accurate for all nations.).

  • Economic development, so this argument goes, will bring increased prosperity and reduce the need to have as many children.

  • This concept suggested the industrialization and urbanization of the “developed” world had successfully stabilized population growth.

  • This charted a gradual decline in population growth resulting in replacement-level fertility — meaning there are enough births to compensate for deaths, creating a relatively stable population.

  • The explanations for population stability or decline are still poorly understood, but the fear of population growth and food insecurity has long caught the attention of social thinkers, such as the aforementioned Malthus.

  • Yet the influence of this demographic observation has extended to development policies directed at the Global South (based on the concept of the North-South Divide), where it is argued that population growth can be slowed through economic inclusion in the capitalist system.

  • FYI: The longer you live, the longer you live. Why? See this link.

Exporting Industrial Agriculture 4

  • The Bretton Woods plan was organized through the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF), eventually culminating years later in the World Trade Organization (WTO).

  1. In 1944, Franklin D. Roosevelt drew forty-four nations at Bretton Woods together to form the World Bank.

  • The idea was to lend money for the reconstruction of war-torn Europe. But most of the loans were given, instead, to peripheral countries in an attempt to “modernize” them.

  • The amount of money loaned was so high that many recipients could not pay back the loans

  • In fact, since loans must be repaid with interest, it means that poor nations end up sending more money to rich nations than the reverse.

  1. In order to manage these huge debts, the IMF can restructure payments owed to the World Bank. But it will only help if the receiving nations are willing to make financial policy changes.

  • For example, the IMF typically wants such nations to find more money by spending less on social programs (like education and healthcare).

  • way to make more money is to increase exports, so the IMF typically demands greater extraction of natural resources (to the detriment of the environment) and lowered costs of exported goods (to the detriment of local businesses).

  1. The WTO operates as a mediator in claims of unfair trading, issuing rulings against states that appear to be protecting their own economic interests, but many of these decisions favor corporations’ interests, and definitely the interests of market capitalism.

  • These institutions exist beyond the control of individual states, linking all state economies together, facilitating stable currency exchanges that allow the free trade of commodity imports and exports.

  • This system is is measured by gross national product (GNP), a globalized economy; and has a neoliberal agenda, which entails privatization and government-backed state reforms.

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