The illusion of control: Industrialized agriculture, nature, and food safety

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

41 Scopus citations


I explore the role of nature in the agrifood system and how attempts to fit food production into a large-scale manufacturing model has lead to widespread outbreaks of food borne illness. I illustrate how industrial processing of leafy greens is related to the outbreak of E. coli 0157:H7 associated with spinach in the fall of 2006. I also use this example to show how industry attempts to create the illusion of control while failing to address weaknesses in current processing systems. The leafy greens industry has focused efforts on sterilizing the growing environment and adopting new technologies, while neglecting to change the concentrated structure of processing systems. Repeated breakdowns in these systems illustrate a widening fault line between attempted and failed control of nature in industrial food production.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)177-181
Number of pages5
JournalAgriculture and Human Values
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jun 2008
Externally publishedYes


  • E. coli 0157:H7
  • Food safety
  • Industrial agriculture
  • Nature
  • Technology

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Agronomy and Crop Science


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