Our industrial food system affects public health in many ways: the obesity epidemic, antibiotic resistance, farm and food worker health and more.

While industrialized farming practices are legally within the regulatory framework, it is critical for consumers to understand the costs of intensive forms of agriculture on public health. Industrialized agriculture delivers inexpensive, low-nutrient food in excessive quantities.

The large-scale methods by which this food is produced also generates massive amounts of animal waste and runoff laden with synthetic fertilizers and pesticides, all of which degrades our soil, water and air. According to medical experts, bacterial resistance to antibiotics is on the rise, in part due to the excessive use of the drugs on factory farms, posing new and more deadly threats of infectious disease. (US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “Antimicrobial Resistance: Biggest Threats and Data.”)

The laborers who maintain large-scale farms are themselves at higher risk for respiratory problems, workplace injuries and certain forms of cancer. (US Government Accountability Office. “Workplace Safety and Health: Additional Data Needed to Address Continued Hazards in the Meat and Poultry Industry, GAO-16-337;” May, Sara et al. “Respiratory Health Effects of Large Animal Farming Environments.” Journal of Toxicology and Environmental Health; and, Mills, PK et al. “Cancer in migrant and seasonal hired farm workers.” Journal of Agromedicine.)

Read the full text of "How Our Food System Affects Public Health," which also includes tips for what you can do as both a consumer and donor.