Lesson 29: Who Should Make the Food Safe?

The students examine issues related to food safety. They role-play, participate in a class discussion and analyze a graph depicting changes in a market to gain insight into ways in which government regulations affect the behavior of producers. In the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, most Americans produced their own food or obtained it directly from neighbors. While serious problems of food safety existed -- refrigeration and canning were not practical yet -- individual Americans were usually in a position to monitor (or take responsibility for) the safety of what they ate. This changed during the nineteenth century as mass production and more efficient transportation systems developed, enabling producers to offer a wide variety of new retail goods to Americans. Although the process was gradual and occurred at varying rates depending on the region of the country involved, most Americans by the twentieth century regularly bought most of their food and medicine from retail merchants.


Cost, Competition, Demand, Government regulation, Incentives, Price, Supply
National Content Standards in Economics:
  • Standard #4: Incentives
  • Standard #7: Markets and Prices
  • Standard #8: Role of Prices
  • Standard #16: Role of Government and Market Failure
  • Standard #17: Government Failure