Theodore Bestor’s article, “How Sushi Went Global,” got me thinking about the globalization of food, as he discusses the process by which blue fin tuna is caught off the shores of New England, Spain, and Australia in mile-wide nets, transported back to markets in Japan, and then can wind up on the plates of diners in New York City. Bestor gets in to how globalization has allowed the Japanese to grow the appeal of their culture through the rising popularity of sushi. Yet he fails to dive further into the impact that such a global market for food has had on the US food industry.
It should be alarming when it is cheaper for my local grocery store in New York to sell apples grown in New Zealand than those grown a couple hundred miles upstate. Yet this has become a reality at more and more grocery stores and retail giants in the United States, as industrial farms – whether they be in New Zealand, or China, or Chile – use pesticides that allow for the large-scale growth of fruits and vegetables in unnatural environments and inhumane labor tactics to ensure that they can supply massive retailers like Wal-Mart. Indeed, this has allowed US consumers to purchase these foods at very low prices, but the question that needs to be addressed is: at what cost?