According to a 2013 study conducted by Oxfam International, our food system employs one third of the global workforce. This same study states that the 10 largest food corporations control more than half of the global market, meaning that their policies and purchasing have a huge impact on the world’s diet, employment, and physical environment. In America specifically, the average farm size is 441 acres, compared to 147 in 1900 (Agricultural Council of America). Advancements in farming techniques and technology have allowed us to produce a higher quantity of food while reducing human labor inputs. However, this newly developed efficiency is controversial. Some issues have arisen with the environmental impacts associated with these technologies, for example, erosion, synthetic chemical runoff, and carbon emissions associated with transportation. Rates of diet-related disease are also on the rise in America, which is pushing Americans to look for alternative food producers. As we look for solutions to these and other problems with our food system, an increasing number of people are turning to smaller, sustainably-oriented businesses to purchase their food. These producers claim to offer quality, ’natural’ food that is produced with less impact on the environment than their industrial, corporate counterparts. In this transition to a healthier, more environmentally sustainable marketplace, this project asks how these newer, ’healthier’ producers are planning on competing with the established industry giants. These producers are an important part of long-term life on this planet, and studying ways in which they can remain successful in our capitalist society will be essential to ensuring that the United States progresses towards a sustainable future. This research project analyzes a few of these sustainable businesses and draws some conclusions about their successful strategies.
Fiona Flynn, ’16
Palo Alto, CA
Environmental Studiestrailer movie Logan
Sponsor: A’amer Farooqi