Location Independence
Jonathan Wang '10

One of the most significant impacts of globalization and progress in technology includes the effects on food distribution. It no longer makes sense to have many small, organic farms that provide local communities, from an economic and corporate view, because a move towards centralization of food production capitalizes most powerfully on the latest agricultural advances. For example, GM, one of the nation's biggest providers of corn, grew about 82% of its crop in only eleven states in 2001. By relying on a vast shipping network, GM can get away with focusing its food growth in just a few places, and maximize production with specialized techniques and technology, such as industrialized monocultures. It all makes sense from a management, resources, and control viewpoint.

New acheivements in biochemistry have also contributed to the location independence of food. In the past, local food lastest the longest, since people could not transport food for very long before it spoiled. Old technologies of salting and drying would only keep food for so long. However, particularly thanks to plastics, packaging, and partially hydrogenated oils, foods that lasted mere hours would develop shelf lives on the order of years, sometimes decades. With foods that stay edible for so long, corporations could centralize food production for maximum efficiency, and transport foods all over the world. Consumers would not be concerned with where it came from specifically, only that it arrived, causing a significant disconnect between food and people as the food network expands along with any advances in infrastructure and transportation technology. Well-prepared dishes last long enough to give those without the normal opportunity a chance to taste a taste steak, an exotic cake, or to otherwise simulate senses of luxury and wealth.

Another important aspect of location independence in food becomes evident when one sees bananas and kiwis in the Ratty. People take the chance that mass production and shipping offers in terms of foreign foods, bringing exotic fruits to places where the climate could not possibly support its growth. With the advance of technology, food is no longer the natural, necessary part of wilderness survival, but almost a luxury and cultural lesson when it comes to globalization and interconnectivity amongst nations. People in high latitudes can appreciate sweet berries and fruits even during the winter, since people no longer depend on their own land for the food that they eat. They come so quickly, and so plentifully. Much like the internet belittles the value of information, the vast network of food that covers the planet frequently ruins the appeal of an orange in December, of a fresh cake in a package, of fish in the Midwest. All people see is the supermarket, and the treats within; there is little question anymore of where the food even originated from, people simply no longer look. The supermarket acts just as a node in a vast food transportation network, and people only see the face of it.