Are you eating drug-laced meat?


 Non-therapeutic Antibiotic Use in Agriculture

 

Abstract

 

This essay investigates the use of antibiotics to promote growth and prevent disease in the American animal agricultural industry. The purpose of this investigation is to address the environmental and possible health concerns surrounding the growing rate of antibiotic resistant pathogens due to the non-therapeutic use. This paper also seeks to explore the reasons why this issue has been allowed to reach a critical, dangerous level. This essay identifies the major players in the animal agricultural industry and their motives to maintain the status quo. This paper addresses the research and data provided by medical journals, disease control organizations and international health organizations who are working to raise awareness and address this global problem. Finally, this paper explores the avenues these organizations and individuals have proposed to address the issue collectively, in order to minimize the impact of antibiotic resistance.

 

 

 

 If you are among the millions of American consumers who haphazardly select a bag of reasonably priced meat for your family’s dinner, you are most likely supporting a company partly responsible for the deaths of 23,000 Americans a year. These deaths, as reported by the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention, directly resulted from infections caused by antibiotic resistant bacteria (2013). Roxanne Nelson, a writer for the scientific journal The Lancet Infectious Diseases explains, “Factory farms in the USA routinely distribute antibiotics to food animals as growth promoters and to compensate for crowding, poor sanitation, and stress, all which increase the risk of disease” (2014). The practice of using of non-therapeutic levels of antibiotics to promote animal growth must stop because eating meat grown under these conditions is not only dangerous to our health, but it supports unethical factory farms.

 

The use of antibiotics to compensate for sub-par farming practices is a dangerous, widespread issue affecting all Americans. Although the FDA reports the continuous use of antibiotics in healthy livestock “could promote the development antibiotic resistance in bacteria”, over 10 million pounds of antibiotics are fed to poultry in the United States per year (Nelson, 2014). Eighty percent of the antibiotics consumed in the United States are administered to food animals, and most of the animals are healthy (Nelson, 2014). This is a disturbing statistic, considering it is common medical knowledge that using a reduced amount of an antibiotic allows the bacteria to gain a tolerance for the drug. Using simple logic, one can deduce that by giving livestock a weak dose of antibiotics throughout their lives, farms are breeding increasingly stronger bacteria.

 

Antibiotic-laced meats are ubiquitous in the United States due to a lack of regulation. As many of you know, the FDA regulates the animal agricultural industry in the United States. Since 1977, the FDA has warned farmers and ranchers of the risks associated with the nontherapeutic use of antibiotics to promote growth and prevent infections in their livestock. In 2013, the FDA reiterated this concern by acknowledging nontherapeutic antibiotic use as a “potential threat to public health” (Nelson, 2014). The FDA asked the major pharmaceutical companies to stop labeling the antibiotics used to treat human infections as acceptable to accelerate growth in livestock. This measure is voluntary, and gives pharmaceutical companies three years to comply. Michael Taylor, the FDA’s deputy commissioner, explained the regulatory process to force the pharmaceutical companies to change labeling would take years, and the agency does not have the resources to do it (Schuff, 2012). Taylor’s response admits not only the danger of the practice, but the agency’s inability to control the industry in a timely, efficient manner.

 

The animal agriculture business, like any other business, is always looking for ways to cut corners in order to maximize profits. Usually this entails replacing a higher quality product with a lower one while maintaining the same price point. In the animal agricultural business, maximizing profits means cramming as many animals into an enclosure as you can, with minimal labor costs. Normally, this would not be profitable because these conditions harbor viruses like the bird flu, but the wanton use of antibiotics enables farmers to not only avoid financially devastating disease, but also maximize profits while doing so. Obviously, breeders would not be purchasing antibiotics if the use of them did not result in increased profit.

The extensive environmental contamination caused by factory farm waste is a major concern for environmentalists, but relatively unknown to the American people. Factory farms produced 369 million tons of manure in 2012. Factory farms do not direct livestock waste to a wastewater treatment plant, but instead repurpose it as fertilizer. Consequently, the antibiotic- resistant bacteria contaminates the surrounding plants and animals (Food & Water Watch, 2015). Due to the ripple effect, the use of antibiotics in farm animals is compromising the health of vegetarians, vegans, and every living organism worldwide. As ethical human beings, we must not allow the gratuitous suffering of human beings or animals to avoid the inconvenience of taking action.

 

A widely held belief among the animal agricultural industry is there is a lack of there is a lack of practical or conclusive evidence that the use of antibiotics in agriculture has any correlation with antibiotic resistance in humans (Stewart, 2009). Some consumers might mirror these beliefs due to the efforts put forth by lobbyists employed by these industries in order to maintain a favorable public image and legal environment. In 2013, the American agricultural industry spent alone spent over thirty-six million dollars with lobbying firms (Center for Responsive Politics, 2013). Lobbying takes many forms; Rod Stewart, writer for Feedstuffs magazine, provided a summary of a letter sent to Obama by factory farmers seeking to convince the government and U.S citizens the overprescribing of antibiotics by doctors is the main cause of antibiotic resistance in humans (2009). Even if this position is some day proven by independent research, it still does not justify the use of non-therapeutic antibiotics. Even a contributing factor must be eliminated when the stakes are the world population’s ability to fight off potentially dangerous bacteria. It is likely this position is simply a result of the agricultural industry’s interest to continue to utilize drugs that allows them to run their businesses with little regard to hygiene or the stress levels of livestock—while inflating profits.

 

 Unfortunately, there is not plentiful funding for independent long-term research studies associating the use of antibiotics in animals to antibiotic-resistant bacteria in humans. However, microbiologist and medical doctor at Tufts University, Stuart Levy, did compare the amount of antibiotic-resistant pathogens in humans working in factory farms to an organic farm. Levy explains his research findings, “Low-dose, prolonged courses of antibiotics among food animals create idea selective pressures for the propagation of resistant strains” (2014). Levy conducted the experiment on a small farm in Denmark, a country that has taken the lead in the testing and surveillance of antibiotic resistant pathogens in the animal agriculture industry. During the experiment, Levy introduced antibiotics into the farm, and antibiotic-resistant bacteria quickly overtook the intestinal track of the chickens. Within 6 months, the majority of intestinal bacteria present in the farm workers was also antibiotic-resistant. The farm returned to organic practices, and within six months, the majority of the farm workers did not have antibiotic-resistant bacteria present in their intestinal track (Levy, 2014). Levy’s experiment explains why the antibiotic commonly used as a growth promoter in Europe responsible for a rise in resistance to vancomycin was common among the European population, but only affected U.S hospitals. This empirical evidence, and Levy’s research, proves the non-therapeutic use of antibiotics affects the human population.

 

Another prominent argument put forth by agribusiness is that not only is the use of non-therapeutic levels of antibiotics not harmful, but it is necessary. Carl Gahwiler, the president of the international animal health company alliance COMISA, predicts an antibiotic ban would render the animal agriculture industry unprofitable. Without the preventive use of antibiotics, animals would develop diseases, which would require higher doses of antibiotics for treatment. He explains antibiotics are vital to the industry and they provide healthier and affordable meats that would otherwise would be costly and prone to disease (Smith, 1999). Dr. Michael Rybolt, director of regulatory and scientific affairs for the National Turkey Federation, put forth a similar argument (Smith, 2008). Predictably, most individuals invested in the livestock industry support this viewpoint.

 

 The use of antibiotics to promote growth and prevent diseases is not necessary. In Denmark, the government’s strict antibiotic policy has had very little impact on the nation’s pork industry. Although the mortality rate increased from 1994 to 2004, it returned to the levels in 1992, the last year antibiotics were used (Levy, 2014). Of course, without the chronic use of antibiotics, some animals will die of diseases, but as long as they are kept in clean environments and are on healthy diets the majority of the animals will survive. Outbreaks will occur, and will be addressed on a case-by-case basis. I propose, to stay consistent, Gahwiler also take low doses of antibiotics every day to prevent a possible sickness.

 

This unfortunate phenomena is still superable, but has reached a critical level. With global consumption of antibiotics projected to increase by two-thirds by 2030, it is time for the U.S to join the ranks of countries who practice responsible agriculture. You must not wait to see your children playing in medical masks to act. While antibiotic use in the animal industry is not the sole cause of the rise of antibiotic-resistant pathogens, the practice weakens your ability to protect yourself when you are most vulnerable. This continuous, cyclical battle has gone on long enough.  The FDA is not currently regulating the use of antibiotics, and until recently has even approved the use of antibiotics for growth promotion. Moreover, even if the 2013 guidelines become mandatory, there are loopholes that allow for the use of antibiotics for disease prevention (Nelson, 2014). The FDA and the animal agricultural industry are not responding to the will of the people. Activists, schools, environmental organizations, and even other countries are demanding an end to this ludicrous practice, yet the demands are unheeded.

 

Fortunately, organizations like the Urban School Food Alliance are successfully fighting antibiotic raised animal products by banning them from millions of children’s lunches (Wood, 2014). Maybe it is time you ban them in your own home.

The stage has been set, and the script calls for action. It has now almost been 40 years since the FDA brought attention to antibiotic use in farms, and here we are still struggling against big business interests. It is time to take matters into our own hands. It is unacceptable for the majority of Americans to not be able to afford to purchase foods raised safely and ethically. Many do not even have the option to purchase antibiotic-free meats at a local supermarket. When we do have foods labeled antibiotic-free available for purchase, we cannot be sure of the validity of the statement. This was the case with Tyson’s “raised without antibiotics” campaign (Patton, 2010).

 

Alexander Fleming, the Nobel Prize winner who discovered the miracle of penicillin, warned us of this day, “The time may come when penicillin can be bought by anyone in the shops. Then there is the danger that the ignorant man may easily underdose himself and by exposing his microbes to non- lethal quantities of the drug make them resistant” (1945). As he prophesied, the ignorant man can, and most likely will, purchase antibiotics at the store, whether they know it or not. In short, the non-therapeutic use of antibiotics cannot be tolerated because it is unethical and potentially life threatening. To succeed in the battle against antibiotic resistant bacteria there has to be mass consensus, for each must do their part for the rest of society and future generations. In the United States, you vote with your dollar, and today is Election Day. Proudly cast the ballot as you boycott the largest perpetrator of human and animal rights violations in the country.

 

 

 

 

 References

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2013). Antibiotic resistance threats in the United States. Retrieved from http://www.cdc.gov/drugresistance/threat-report-2013/pdf/ar-threats-2013-508.pdf#page=11

Center for Responsive Politics. (2013). Annual lobbying on agricultural services. Retrieved from http://www.opensecrets.org/lobby/indusclient.php?id=A07&year=2015

Fleming, A. (1945). Penicillin. Retrieved from http://www.nobelprize.org/nobel_prizes/ medicine/laureates/1945 /fleming-lecture.pdf

Food & Water Watch. (2015). Antibiotic resistance 101. Retrieved from http://documents.foodandwaterwatch.org/doc/Antibiotic_Resistance_101_2014.pdf#_ga=1.154879672.1409144757.1441539128

Humane Society of the United States. (2009). An HSUS report: Human health implications of non-therapeutic antibiotic use in animal agriculture

Levy, S. (2014). Reduced antibiotic use in livestock: How Denmark tackled resistance.

Environmental Health Perspectives. (2014). 122(6), A160. doi:http://dx.doi.org.ezproxy1.lib.asu.edu/10.1289/ehp.122-A160

Nelson, R. (2014). FDA action on animal antibiotics could still have loopholes. The Lancet Infectious Diseases, 14(5), 376-377. doi:http://dx.doi.org.ezproxy1.lib.asu.edu/10.1016/S1473-3099(14)70761-3

Patton, S. (2010). Tyson foods settles suit over antibiotic labeling. Arkansas Business, 27(3), 11.

Schuff, S. (2012). FDA nixes ‘production’ use of antibiotics. Feedstuffs, 84(16), 1.

Smith, R. (1999). Antibiotic bans, regulations may stop development of drugs. Feedstuffs, 71(13), 1.

Smith, R. (2009). Antibiotics called vital, safe. Feedstuffs

Smith, R. (2009). Antibiotics called vital, safe: In a letter to Obama’s policy adviser, 20 organizations say antibiotics are critical to the health and welfare of livestock and poultry and are not responsible for resistant bacteria. Feedstuffs, 81(34), 9.

Wood, D. (2014, 12/11; 2015/8). Why 3 million school children will no longer receive antibiotic- laced chicken. The Christian Science Monitor

 

 

 

 

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Look It Up: The FDA does not regulate the use of antibiotics in healthy animals

If you look at most of the packaging of meat, mostly poultry, you will find that it says “hormone-free”. However, if you look more closely there is a little star, and it says that the FDA does not allow hormones to be added to chicken anyway. Oh! Well Goody! If you do some research, however, you will find that the FDA suggests the animal agricultural community refrain from feeding livestock grain which is treated with antibiotics to healthy animals for the purpose of promoting growth. See, when the animal is not fighting bacteria, it has more energy to fatten up. So, not only does the food industry get to benefit from fatter chickens, but they also can prevent losing profit when diseases kill off their flock. Another bonus is they can pack the chickens in unsanitary, stressful conditions, and they will still be fat! Anyway, don’t listen to the labeling. Tyson has already been sued for using antibiotics and labeling it antibiotic-free. But who heard about the 5 million dollar settlement which entitled customer that purchased this lie to up to 50 dollars, anyway? For that matter,  don’t take my word for it… Look it up.

The Good Life: My Argument for the Objective List Theory

What value theory do you subscribe to?

The value theory I have adopted is the objective list theory. I chose this theory of well-being by process of elimination. I do not believe the desire theory is reasonable, because it has several difficulties that I cannot overlook. Now, I must consider hedonism and the objective list theory. Hedonism is attractive in the sense that it allows the individual to decide what constitutes their own well-being, and explains why there are so many different paths to happiness (Shafer-Landau, 2015). Yet, as Foot’s [lobotomy] example pointed out, happiness does not always equate to a good life. You can be happy, but be lacking in other aspects that are an important part of the human experience. The arguments that I found to be truly compelling were the Argument from False Happiness, and the Argument from Autonomy (Shafer-Landau, 2015). Of course, I desire to be happy, some of this happiness comes from fulfilling my desires, but I would not consider the relinquishment of autonomy or truth an adequate price to pay for happiness. Awareness of the presence of paternalism or deception would greatly affect my happiness. Therefore, happiness is intrinsically valuable, but it is not sufficient for a good life. I chose the objective list theory because I believe there are things that make our lives good, even if we do not value them, or believe they will benefit our lives. I do not believe our desires always contribute to well-being, because these desires could be influenced by culture, lack of self-worth, lack of education/understanding, or a combination of two or more of these factors. Of course, I do not believe I have composed an exhaustive list of what is intrinsically valuable, but I have tentatively identified a few.

1.       Virtue

2.       Autonomy

3.       Happiness

4.       Knowledge

5.       Achievement

6.       Truth

Why Objective List Theory?

As I stated above, I found several manifest deficiencies in the desire theory. The issues I found to be most obvious are that desire theory does not take into account the desires of people who have been psychologically sculpted to desire things that obviously not contribute to their well-being, or how most of us don’t really know what we truly desire, as John McEnroe’s autobiography exemplified (Shafer-Landau, 2015). I could not adopt Hedonism because I cannot accept happiness is sufficient to a good life—the experience machine objection expertly argues this point. I believe truth, autonomy, achievement, knowledge, happiness, and virtue to be intrinsically valuable, and I am prepared to sacrifice happiness in some instances to gain other things of intrinsic value.

What arguments against the objective list theory concern you?

I do not find any of the criticisms of the objective list theory to be troubling. However, I do believe it might be counterintuitive for some people to believe that something you do not value or desire could make your life better. I would argue this point by noting that knowledge is by definition something you know. If you do not know of it, you cannot desire it, but knowledge is something that makes your life better once you attain it.

References:

Shafer-Landau, R. (2015). Fundamentals of Ethics. New York, New York: Oxford University Press.

People Who Live In Glass Houses Should Not Throw Stones – My Own Hungry Planet Photograph

Time Magazine: Peter Menzel’s Hungry Planet Series

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It is easy to look into other’s lives and see what is amiss. However, it is a lot harder to discern what needs changing in your own life. As I perused the Hungry Planet Project Series by Peter Menzel and Faith D’Aluisio, I found myself judging the diets of the families. I noticed the myriad Coca Colas in the Mexican home, the surplus of chips and sugary snacks in the American homes, and the vast array of processed food in practically every first world living room.

When I looked over my own grocery list, however, I noticed just how much the global marketplace influences my own diet.  As much as I detest advertisements, my grocery list sang a different tune with most of my food choices emblazoned with brand names. My disappointment persisted when I analyzed my diet, or lack thereof, it was plain my choices are high in fat, and processed. I eat mostly carbohydrates and meat at every meal. I have a sugary drink, and indulge in cookies practically every day.  I, like many, convince myself that if I abstain from eating fast food, I am eating healthily.

As I composed my photograph, I became aware of the impact culture has upon my food choices. Some of my food preferences were influenced by the foods I became accustomed to in the United States, and some of my diet was influenced by my Puerto Rican ethnicity.  Most of my favorite items are Puerto Rican, yet American food such as Philly Cheese Steak sandwiches and my own rendition of shepherd’s pie are vital to my existence. Although I do attempt to eat healthily by eating some fruits and vegetables, if I am to be completely honest, I usually accompany the vegetables with food high in fat. While it is easy to be critical of others, it is an enlightening, humbling experience to analyze what one consumes.

I strongly encourage you to photograph your weekly food intake.Even if you don’t change one thing, just the process of composing a photograph and analyzing what you put into your body is beneficial.

my first experience with guided meditation

http://marc.ucla.edu/body.cfm?id=22

At first, the meditation exercise seemed fruitless. As is usual during any under-stimulated moment, I started organizing my mental to do list. I began the audio again. This time, I embraced the relaxed mood, and truly felt in the moment. I found it helpful to focus upon my body instead of attempting keep my mind clear. The experience was very peaceful, and even after the meditation coach concluded I remained with my eyes closed for several minutes. My body felt at ease, and my prior anxiety diminished. In this world, experiencing new things is necessary to repel stagnation in writing and in life, and being open to new ways of thinking and being is a prerequisite to experiencing new things.

momentarily stepping out of the fog

tree

As I embarked upon my usual path to the park, I found myself missing the accompaniment of upbeat music. After a few minutes, my thoughts began to wander, and I settled into an unusually slow gait. I found it extremely difficult to focus on the world around me while surrounded by loud activity, but luckily the park entrance was now in sight. I hurried up the steps to commence my peregrination. As I entered the park, the variety of greenery caught my attention. I am not well versed in dendrology, so it is impossible for me to describe the intricate beauty and knotty texture of this tree trunk. After admiring it for a minute or two, I continued down the walkway. Small lizards scuttled across my path, rustling the dry leaves as they searched for cover. I dawdled towards the middle of the park, and found myself facing a huge tree. Of course, I notice this tree every time I walk through this park. Today, however, I took the time to examine this humongous being. Finally, I noticed the vines hanging from the tree were actually roots. The tree produces hanging vines, which over time root to the ground and thicken to form a secondary trunk. As I look around, there are several “trees” connected to the large tree’s branches. I have exercised at this park on countless occasions. Yet, I never took the time to notice the intricate beauty of nature. It’s amazing what you can miss when you’re not looking.

Do we dare to analyze our own diets?

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The Global Marketplace’s Effect on the Japanese Diet

Most people do not give what they eat throughout the week much thought, but not knowing what one consumes leads to ignorant, possibly harmful, purchasing decisions. In 2005, photojournalist Peter Menzel and writer Faith D’Aluisio set out on a venture to document the food families have on their dinner tables around the world. In the Hungry Planet Series: What the World Eats, Menzel and his wife D’Aluisio visit twenty-four countries and thirty families around the world to photograph the food they consume throughout a typical week. One of the families featured in the series is the Ukita family, a nuclear, middle class family living in the suburbs of Tokyo, who fall into the Hungry Planet photo series’ median expenditure range (37,699 Yen or $317.25). An analysis of the portrait of the Ukita family of Kodaira City, Japan, reveals Peter Menzel uses a relevant setting (logos), an unaltered display of food choices (ethos), in conjunction with the presence of the family itself (pathos) to display the insidious decadence of the Japanese diet.

Kazuo, 53, is a “salaryman” (a white-collar worker); every day, he takes an hour-long commute to Tokyo to move boxes of books for a distribution company (Menzel & D’Aluisio, 2005). In the photo, the family sits in their relatively small living room surrounded by a television and the large variety of foods they consume throughout the week. They look up at the photographer, as they kneel on cushions placed on the floor in front of their dining room table.

At first glance, the Hungry Planet Series could be interpreted as a documentary of the foods eaten around the world. However—if one delves deeper—the varying use of the rhetorical appeals becomes apparent.  The appeal to pathos first captures the viewer’s attention. The television advertisement, located at the head of the table, dominates the family’s crowded living room and photograph. The presence of a television at meal times is common in many American households, which facilitates a bond between the Ukita family and the viewer.  By emphasizing the television, Menzel has successfully used pathos to address a key influence in the Ukita family’s eating habits, and our own.

A subtle appeal to pathos manifests in the traditional Japanese ivory above the television. This decoration exhibits a feeble attempt to retain ancient traditions in an otherwise Western living space. Its presence evokes sadness, pity, and dismay in the viewer. The family portrait forces the viewer to see what one would otherwise attempt to overlook—future generations in Japan will most likely have little to no recollection of life before the Meiji period. The Japanese culture is now merely a decorative artifact upon the television and will soon be stowed away as a distant memory.

The appeal to logos is apparent in the prominent placement of traditional Japanese foods—fresh vegetables and seafood—on the elevated table. There is a hierarchy to the photographer’s placement of the family’s weekly ration. The arrangement of food in pyramid form emphasizes the amount and types of food ingested throughout the week. At the top, lies the smallest food group—fresh, low-fat foods.  The pyramid and categorization of the foods visually display the percentage of the caloric intake consumed in the form of processed, pre-packaged foods. Aside from the few packages of fresh fruits and vegetables, there is little healthy food or whole grains present in the photograph, and most of the food on the floor is high in fat.

The food featured in the television advertisement is the photographer’s way of connecting the cause to the effect. The advertisement features a Japanese man peddling an indistinguishable processed food. Menzel emphasizes the importance of this connection by displaying the television prominently in the center of the photograph. Thus, the presence of the television serves two purposes—to establish a connection with the viewer, and to visually display the pernicious influence of the global marketplace in Japan.

If you consider the context and genre of the Hungry Planet series, Peter Menzel established ethos very skillfully. A skeptic might attempt to refute Menzel’s claim that agri-business, government, and the global food industry are hijacking the diets of people around the world, or conclude he is subscribing to a conspiracy theory. However, Menzel proves to be astute, and had the foresight to capitalize upon the indubitable nature of a photograph. He presented his research in a tangible, concrete and transparent way. Of course, he has a strong viewpoint on the matter—why else would he have chosen to study the subject in the first place? To combat the inherent suspicion of bias, he allowed the viewer to analyze what people are eating in the context of their own home. Mendez used an unaltered photograph to present his viewpoint in a detached, objective, and logical manner. Moreover, the image leaves room for the viewer to make an independent analysis. Additionally, a cynic might argue the strategic placement of an advertisement on the television damages the ethos of the photograph. Nonetheless, while that aspect of the photograph is staged; the advertisement is an accurate representation of a powerful influence in their lives that a candid photograph could not easily portray.

The decadence of Japanese culinary tradition might seem unrelated to the adoption of a Western, unhealthy diet, but research by Bestor has revealed otherwise, “Since the late nineteenth century, tastes have been influenced by foreign cuisines, many of which have been adapted and absorbed into the national diet. Since World War II, consumption of dairy products, beef, bread, and other Western foods has increased dramatically” (2001).  Therefore, the military presence of the United States has significantly changed the diet, health, and culture of Japan. To understand the effect, you must understand the cause. The U.S presence in Japan affected food choices, which in turn affects culture. In a cyclical process, the shift in culture shaped the media, and the media affects the food choices.

“For decades, Japan had the healthiest diet of any developed country. That is changing, as the young and affluent shun traditional foods for hamburgers, pizza and French cuisine” (Finley, 2002). The Japanese culinary traditions present today originated thousands of years ago. Due to the island’s location in the Pacific Ocean, the Japanese utilized the fertile fishing grounds the offshore currents provided (Bestor, 2001). Thus, products of the sea (fish, shellfish, and sea vegetables) became the logical staples of the Japanese diet (White, 2002).

This photograph exemplifies both Finley and Bestor’s analysis of the Japanese diet. As White depicted, the majority of protein is provided by fresh fish and one of the family’s favorite foods—sashimi. Additionally, the photo shows a variety of fresh fruits and vegetables: tomatoes, potatoes, cabbage, lettuce, apples, bananas, and carrots. What is troubling, however, is what is not on the dining room table. Some of the untraditional foods include several bags of potato chips, at least four packages of dried pasta, two loafs of bread, a box of pancake mix, and large amounts of dairy.

Perhaps the most concerning of these changes is the influence of the media. The VHS tapes signify the television has been a long-term presence in the Ukita dining room. This has undoubtedly inhibited communication behavior over time.  Like in the United States, the ubiquitous presence of the media is not only affecting the types of food eaten, but also the family’s (especially the children) lifestyle. The family is not overweight, but they are not healthy. With Mio and Maya having the most visible signs of an unhealthy diet. Not surprisingly, in 2003, a longitudinal study of American adolescents determined those who watched more than two hours of television a day were twice as likely to be overweight at the follow-up study as those who watched less than two hours (Kaur & Choi & Mayo & Jo). Watching television is inherently a sedentary activity. Additionally, the advertisements—that make up fifty percent of the viewing experience—feature a paradoxical mixture of fattening foods and fit bodies. Thus, the media presence is damaging not only bodies, but also self-concepts.

In summation, Peter Menzel effectively uses the rhetorical appeals in the photograph of the Ukita family to display the effects the global food market has upon a middle class family’s food choices, and the culture they live in. The dissipation of the Japanese tradition is perhaps most apparent in the physical and emotional distance the Ukita family presents in their portrait. They are all sitting rigidly, there is at least six inches of space between the husband and wife. Mio, 17, sits separately on the opposite side of the room. This placement indicates a chasm between Mio and the rest of the family; at 17, she is likely rebelling against traditional Japanese values, and embracing the American culture and diet.

Additionally, Menzel uses the rhetorical appeals (ethos, pathos, logos) to bring the viewer’s attention to the global significance of the dissipation of the Japanese culinary tradition. To elaborate upon the significance of this information in a global context, research by Gehlar and Regmi (2005) concluded that the United States, the European Union, and Japan consume two-thirds of the processed foods sold globally. Moreover, the globalization of the food market is not an American problem or a Japanese problem. As citizens of the world, each individual has a responsibility to address the wanton collusion of the government and global market place, not just in Japan, but also right here at home.

References

Bestor, T. C. (2001). Japan. In C. R. Ember, & M. Ember (Eds.), Countries and their cultures. New York: Macmillan Reference USA. 1140-1158.

Finley, D. (2002). Rising rate of obesity causes alarm in Japan. Seattle Post-Intelligencer. A.4.

Gehlhar, M., & Regmi, A. (2005). Factors shaping global food markets. New directions in global food markets,17.

Kaur, H., Choi, W. S., Mayo, M. S., & Jo Harris, K. (2003). Duration of television watching is

associated with increased body mass index. The Journal of Pediatrics, 143(4), 506-511.

doi:http://dx.doi.org.ezproxy1.lib.asu.edu/10.1067/S0022-3476(03)00418-9

Menzel, P., & D’Aluisio, F. (2005). Hungry planet: What the world eats. Napa, California: Material World Press.

White, M. I. (2002). Cuisine—Japan. In K. Christensen, & D. Levinson (Eds.), Encyclopedia of

        modern.Asia. New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons. 197-201.