“Introduction to Industrialization of Food Systems.”

Industrialization Notes

  • The rationale for industrialization was to free americans from farming and join the labor force, fueling the economy, make food and farming cheaper, etc.
  • First of any industry to exemplify industrial model was the Union Stock Yards meat packing plant in Chicago. Inspired the Ford assembly line model.
  • Industrialism is a mindset or approach.
  • Themes of Industrial Food System:
  1. Specialization – operations function more efficiently by focusing on fewer tasks
  2. Mechanization – the replacement of human and animal labor with machines
  3. Standardization – specialized facilities; uniform ways of doing things
  4. Technology – new technologies and increasing production and making it more efficient
  5. Economies of Scale – mass production and buying in bulk; process larger economies of scale
  6. Consolidation – larger and fewer facilities; smaller farms can not compete with larger factories
  7. Concentration – the extent to which a small number of corporations control most of the sales; raises concerns for monopolization
  • US is good at producing a lot of food with minimal labor, being most efficient in the world.
  • Concerns that come with industrialization:
  1. Exposure to pesticides
  2. Synthetic Fertilizers 
  3. Resource Depletion
  4. Loss of Domestic Biodiversity (Irish potato famine)
  5. Climate Change (Greenhouse gas emissions)


Lecture Response

The issue that most surprised me in the video lecture was industrialization’s effect on the depletion of our planet’s organic matter. Synthetic nitrogen fertilizers deplete soil organic matter over the long term, by entering nearby waterways affecting aquatic ecosystems. This creates an excess of nutrients resulting in algal blooms and aquatic ‘dead zones’. The pictures of these dead zones the video displayed look like green goo. The freshwater was no longer blue but green, looking toxic and bad for the environment. This is very disturbing to see and makes me wonder how prevalent this damage is related to industrialization. Just looking at the picture below of a dead fish in an affected area makes me feel like it’s not right messing with our planet’s natural processes, and that in the future this could very well be a major problem.

Lake Erie algal blooms, August 2011




One thought on ““Introduction to Industrialization of Food Systems.”

  1. Within the lecture when they exposed “Dead Zones,” as a result of depletion of organic matter from industrialization was really surprising to me as well. Green goo is a great way of describing what dead zones are. And it is sad to see aquatic ecosystems filled with toxins and essentially eliminated entirely.
    I hope there are efforts to reverse Dead Zones or at least research targeted in doing so. As well as preventive practices to avoid creating Dead Zones to better the environment.

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