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OPINION: Food sustains us, but the way we produce it can actually harm us, a Pacific University student warns.

Food is what sustains our everyday life, as well as the everyday lives of this world's population.

The term "food systems" describes the process of getting the food from the farm to the fork, including all the minor steps in between. Some examples of these steps are agricultural production, processing and packaging, transportation and distribution, consumption, and waste.

Many people tend to overlook the in-between steps, and merely focus on what food is the cheapest for them to purchase.

With our economy, it is understandable why people strive to save money in any area they can. What a lot of people do not realize is our food choices can harm the environment. By purchasing products from corporate farms, we are supporting them and the business they run, but corporate farming has many negative impacts.

Commercial agriculture is the large-scale production of crops to be sold or distributed. It can be traced back a long time and has evolved ever since.

Large corporations are infamous for being greedy, dominating different markets, and hurting our economy. When a large corporation takes control of a commercial farm, it becomes considered as a corporate farm. Before corporate farms, the local-run, smaller family farms produced crops in a safe, sustainable manner. These large corporate farms tend to have poor working conditions and do not pay much mind to the environment.

Corporate farms are known for monocropping plants and having bad conditions for their animal farms. The greedy corporate farms will continue these practices if it means more profit and is a problem that affects our food system.

One reason corporate farms are considered a problem in the food system is because the goal of most of these corporations is to make as much profit as possible from the farm. One way many corporate farms do this is monocropping.

The world experienced its first food regime, a transformation of the way we think about food, from the 1870s through the 1930s. During this time, the trading of imports between Europe and settler colonies began to grow, and many multi-crop farms turned into mono-crop farms.

During the second food regime from the 1950s through the 1970s, mono-crop farms were encouraged to combat hunger. A monocrop farm is a farm that produces one type of crop each year. Producing one crop every year allows farmers to use the same seeds, fertilizer, pest control, and machinery, lowering their overall costs and simplifying their production plans and processes. They also typically plant high-yielding crops to produce more crops at a cheaper price.

Although mono-crop farming is good for the farmers' pockets, there are multiple reasons why it is bad.

Over the years, corporate farms have changed the way we look at food. All too often, people don't know where their food came from and what impacts their food choices have on the whole system. By spreading the negative effects big corporate farms and their agricultural practices have on the food system and sharing the importance and benefits of good food practices to a larger community, we can teach people to appreciate their food and spark a large change in the food system.

La'akea Chan is a student at Pacific University.


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