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Do Modern Consumers Take Food for Granted?

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Do Modern Food Consumers Take Food for Granted?

Yusi Cheng

Michigan State University

Author Note

Yusi Cheng, The School of Hospitality Business, Michigan State University.

Yusi Cheng is now a second-year graduate student majored in hospitality business management.

This paper was completed as an assignment about trends in cuisine& culture study for course HB841, section001, Fall 2017.

Correspondence concerning this article should be addressed to Yusi Cheng, The School of Hospitality Business, Michigan State University, East Lansing, MI 48824. Contact:

Keywords: food, modern consumer, food waste

Do Modern Food Consumers Take Food for Granted?

        As we can see from the book Food: The Key Concepts (Belasco, 2008), “distancing from food production leads many modern consumers to take food for granted”, which depicted that, first of all, the present-day customers accept well-prepared food without question or objection for sure; Secondly, the current “industrial eater” (Belasco, 2008) treat food in a careless or indifferent manner without doubt (Take for granted, 2017).

When did it start?

        Generally speaking, there are few available records about people taken food for granted. But there are some articles provide cues for us to infer the beginning of it. Felicitas Schneider (2011) said “It is often stated that the wastage of food is a result of our contemporary affluent societies which are not only characterized by an excessive consumption level but also by lavishly handling of goods”. Pudel and Westenhofer (1998) also mentioned that “reasons for the careless handling of food may be summarized in the loss of food value, loss of food identity, loss of food origin and the loss of social and emotional linkage concerning food”.

        It is rational to deduce that food waste is a sign of people taking their aliment for granted. The “people” here must be “relatively rich” so that they can afford the mass consumption cost. Meanwhile, the population of them must be large enough to influence the whole world food consumption. For example, middle class and working class. Based on the article of Maxwell Livesey (2013), we could know that “During the industrial revolution, two new classes evolved named the middle class and the working class”. According to all the materials above, we could boldly assume that the indication of modern consumers taking food for granted started between 18th and 19th century.


Why do people take food for granted?

        As we mentioned partly before, the linkage between original food and people does matter. Wendell Berry (1989) announced that “modern consumer no longer knows or imagines the connections between eating and the land, and who is therefore necessarily passive and uncritical”. The reason food is so vague in our culture is mainly because “thanks to processing, packaging, and marketing, it is an abstraction— an almost infinite set of variation on a theme of corn, which is the basis of so many modern foodstuffs.” Michael Pollan demonstrated (2006). We can take the meat-packing industry as a good example, Warren Belasco (2008) said that “The meat-packing industry, whose main thrust over 150 years has been to insulate consumers from any contact with the disassembly of warm-blooded mammals into refrigerated, plastic-wrapped chops and patties”.

        Nowadays, in some developing countries, such as China, India, and Brazil, people still go to outdoor markets to buy raw meat, un-packed vegetable and fruit. Hence in these countries, consumers still treat food with a devout heart. Although the population in these countries account for a vast majority of the world, they waste less. A report from the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (2015) illustrated that “On a global average, per capita food wastage footprint on climate in high income countries is more than double that of low income countries, due to wasteful food distribution and consumption patterns in high income countries”.

        However, there are rare outdoor markets in the “first-world” countries, like the United States and Canada. Customers don’t have access to the origin of their foods. As a deduction, they were “easy not to remember that eating was a moral act inexorably bound to killing” (Cronon, 1991).

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Is it right?

        We should never take the precious food for granted. As we can see below, people in Florida emptied shelves of drinking water and other supplies because the Hurricane Irma. Food is always the basic need for human beings. There is a saying that “If you want peace, prepare for war”. If human want to sustain in the earth longer, we shouldn’t careless about our food.

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