Chandni Das, Tabria Willford, Meron Hailu
Since the 19th century, a multitude of immigrant populations brought their food cultures to the United States, causing the United States to obtain its colloquial identity as “the melting pot.” Interestingly enough, we didn’t melt; we coexisted. Our paper serves to track the evolution of our food culture, looking at how immigration, big business, oligopoly power, and consumer ignorance have affected the relationship the average consumer has with food. The change in our food culture brought on by immigration has yielded an increasing number of ethnic restaurants and subsequently a desire for variety in our diets. These implications include the disjointed food culture formed by our segmented food market and the power given to large food industries to supply these ingredients. Poor health and excess environmental waste are just some of the affects of this culture, which manifest themselves in a population disconnected from their food production system. We, as consumers, have, albeit unintentionally, given up power over our food to these large food industries, allowing them to misuse resources and perpetuate energy waste, while simultaneously tarnishing our environment and health. The only component of this cycle that the population can control is consumer ignorance, and as long as it still exists, the cycle will continue to thrive. Therefore, we propose mandated food education in schools and communities to be the rightful solution in breaking this cycle. It will influence food choices, promote healthful eating, re-establish that relationship with our food, and help us gain control of our food culture.