Radebaugh's Colossal Crops

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Radebaugh’s “Colossal Crops” comic strip may have seemed a bit outlandish when it was published on January 28th, 1962, but today it holds quite accurate. The comic portrays an extremely large ear of corn loaded onto a truck, and a gamma ray “sprinkler” irradiating the tomato plants in the background (Radebaugh). Due to a significant increase in the size of crops over time and the modern practice of food irradiation, Radebaugh’s 1962 “Colossal Crops” comic was a justifiable, albeit hyperbolic prediction of agriculture in our modern age. Much has changed since 1962, especially in the realm of food production. A move from centuries-old traditional agricultural techniques to factory-farming and selective plant breeding signified the change of…show more content…
Gamma radiation works by exposing food to ionizing radiation to destroy anything unwanted on the surface, such as insects, bacteria and pathogens (Finkiel). In 1958, the first food irradiation plant was built in Germany, but due to a major decrease in costs of the technology over time, it is much more commonly used in the food industry today on foods like wheat, pork, spices, poultry, red meat, and a variety of produce (Finkiel). The method of gamma irradiation has since been proven to inhibit the growth of microorganisms and delay the ripening of produce such as tomatoes, thus extending the produce’s shelf life and maximizing profit (Singh et al.). The Food and Drug Administration approved the expansion of food irradiation practices upon American foods in 1986, and today, five-hundred thousand metric tons of food are irradiated annually worldwide (“Food Irradiation Testing”). Consequently, the irradiated, massive tomatoes depicted in Radebaugh’s “Colossal Crops” also hold true to modern form in the commonplace practice of food irradiation by gamma rays, despite the hyperbolic nature of their…show more content…
Although hyperbolic, these depictions of produce are not far afield from modern agricultural practices: namely, by the modern development of a focus on genetic engineering in agriculture, and the now more commonplace nature of food irradiation by gamma rays. As per further innovation in the agricultural industry, over time, there is reason to expect a continual enlargement of crops due to their growth in size over centuries as technologies have advanced. Also, one can reasonably expect a continual advancement in methods of agricultural sciences involving gamma irradiation to defend against insects, parasites and pathogens which may continue to disturb some agricultural practices in more efficient ways. Thus, one day, maybe one individual head of corn will really need to be loaded onto trucks for transport from farm-to-table as Radebaugh depicted, with physical gamma-ray sprinklers to
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