On average, people living in America today consume 120 pounds of meat per year. Today in America roughly 37,233,715,560 pounds of meat is consumed annually. Although there is one other country in the world that consumes more meat, America is one of few countries that have resorted to factory farming in order to maintain this habit. While there are discrepancies on whether factory farming is good or bad for the American society, it is proven that it changes the lives of those living near the farms. If the residents are not suffering from severe asthma or some sort of lung ailment, they have heart cancer or skin disease. This leads to the question of why are we as Americans and we as meat eaters still allowing the practice of factory farms when they are so detrimental to the health of those living around them?
Franz Boas would answer this question by stating that this culture has evolved on its own terms, not developing ideas from other cultures but instead creating customs and values through independent invention. With that in mind, the concept of factory farming is an independent invention and could be viewed as a positive cultural adaptation that is having negative effects on the immediate surrounding people. As stated in Cultural Anthropology, Appreciating Cultural Diversity, “Boas showed that human biology was plastic. It could be changed by the environment, including cultural forces…” Boas would maintain that these medical issues are passed along to future generations of people living in these areas. Therefore the medical and cultural illnesses are adopted by those affected (i.e. negativity toward the factory farms and anyone who works there). If many different types of race were to be living in this farming area, it would also support Boas’ theory that “biology (including race) did not determine culture” meaning the people affected by this issue would not just be one race.
Applied Anthropology would recognize this situation as a problem, and try to change it by studying the culture of these areas very well and then attempting to change the culture into what they believe is the right solution. This could however be a situation where they may not see a problem, or they could be completely outraged, but either way they will try to adapt the culture into something that they believe is right, generally trying to change it into something more similar to that of their own. While an Applied Anthropologist would put great amounts of time into studying this cultural dilemma, they also greatly believe in trying to solve the problems that they see, and sometimes will do it in ways that disturb the cultural flow. In this example of the factory farms they may not have to worry about disturbing the cultural flow of the people living in the area of the factory farms because they would be benefitting their lives greatly by solving the problem. The disruption would be for the rest of Americans who “need” their 120 pounds of meat yearly and would not be able to obtain it because of the closing of the factory farms.
— Pat E.
 Berg, Brandon. “More on American Meat Consumption.” Distributed Republic (2008): n. pag. Web. 18 Sep 2010. <http://www.distributedrepublic.net/archives/2008/05/09/more-american-meat-consumption>.
2 Bittman, Mark. “Rethinking the Meat-Guzzler.” New York Times (2008): n. pag. Web. 5 Oct 2010. <http://www.nytimes.com/2008/01/27/weekinreview/27bittman.html>
3 Kottak , Conrad. Cultural Anthropology, Appreciating Cultural Diversity. 14th ed. New York, NY: McGraw Hill, 2009. 1-100. Print.
4 Kottak , Conrad. Cultural Anthropology, Appreciating Cultural Diversity. 14th ed. New York, NY: McGraw Hill, 2009. 1-100. Print.