The Risks of the Dollar Menu

People who receive lower income are more likely to consume cheaper, processed foods, and have a higher chance of undergoing or receiving obesity, Type 2 diabetes, and other diet-related health problems. Also, low-income families, who disburse a larger percentage of their salary on food, have been greatly impacted by the proliferation of cheap, unhealthy food. However, no matter the amount of income received, everyone should have the right to access healthy food to maintain a good lifestyle.

Funds from the federal government were given to U.S. farms to assist the wide instability of crop prices during the Great Depression. On the other hand, the federal government now spends about $35 billion every year funding crops in a complex system of endowment. Throughout the years, the prices of certain crops, including corn and soy, have decreased due to this contribution of money.

Low-income families, who spend most of their earnings on purchasing foods, have been greatly impacted by the rapid increase in numbers of cheap, but unhealthy foods. Due to their tight budget, the difference in the cost of fresh fruits and vegetables and foods funded by the government forces them to ingest more processed foods than people would normally consume. An unfortunate outcome is that income has become the most accurate predictor of the two conditions linked to diet – Type 2 diabetes and obesity.  As a matter of fact, diet-related chronic diseases are one of the leading causes of death in the United States.

Many people believe that food choices are a personal responsibility, where what we eat and buy is a choice; however, others disagree and believe that healthy food choices should be available to everyone and not just to people who can afford it. As I stated before, expensive healthy foods have caused low-income families to resort to purchasing inexpensive unhealthy food and increased the risk of receiving diet-related chronic problems. Because of this, many people have started to question if something should be done about it.

The author, Michael Pollan states in the 2008 New York Times issue, “That’s what we’ve been heavily subsidizing, encouraging farmers to grow more of, and that’s what makes fast food so cheap. Meanwhile over in the produce section, the head of broccoli costs more than a fast-food hamburger. Why is that? We do very little to encourage farmers to grow what are called specialty crops, which is actual food you can eat,” extremely concerned that national policies are subsidizing the least healthful calories that we eat. He also questions, “What if we had a definition of food that said a food is something that doesn’t just have calories but has a certain amount of nutrients and micronutrients?” Farm subsidies have resulted in significantly lowering costs of the food industry and has caused them to be overproduced and more inexpensive than other crops, when the farm subsidy system should be organized differently to provide foods for everyone.

Not being able to eat healthy foods because it cannot be afforded is awfully unjust. Everyone should have the privilege to access food to sustain a good lifestyle.

~Rebecca Chang

  1. “How U.S. Agricultural Subsidies Harm the Environment, Taxpayers and The Poor.” National Center for Policy Analysis. N.p., n.d. Web. 17 Apr. 2017.
  2. “Oz, Daphne. “Why Are Processed Foods Cheaper than Fresh Foods? – Eating and Society.” Sharecare. N.p., n.d. Web.
  3. Schlosser, Eric. “Access to Good, Healthy Food Should Be a Basic Human Right.” The Atlantic.    Atlantic Media Company, 22 Feb. 2012. Web.

Picture Credit:


Who Is Responsible For Food Safety?

Food safety has become a fast growing issue across the United States because of the high levels of GMO and the fatalities of consumers. There have been incidents where the consumer has not received justice from the companies. The government has protected the big corporations leaving the consumers to question, who will protect their rights? Who will ensure food safety? The food production corporations should ensure food safety for consumers which should be monitored by the Food and Drug Administration.

Food production corporations should ensure food safety since they are responsible for the consequences that consumers encounter after consuming their product. There have been consumers who have died because of an E. coli infection that has occurred through the contamination of feces of an animal in the food being produced. Foodborne diseases have caused an estimate of “6 million to 81 million illnesses and up to 9,000 deaths each year (EIDJ).” These corporations need to take action and be monitored by the Food and Drug Administration.

The Food and Drug Administration should enforce caution for food corporations when producing goods for the consumers. The “FDA-regulated products have almost tripled from 2004 to 2014, rising to about 33 million” (IFS). This increase of FDA influence upon the food products can promote a form of assurance of the food corporations making changes to their productions and have them become more cautious about the chemicals utilized. The FDA is working on protecting the American consumer and “implementing historic new food safety laws” (IFS). The administration is part of the food system and provides a safety net for consumers and will trial these large corporations demanding change.

The large corporations can escape the responsibility of the negative effects of their produce by blaming the consumers. However, there is only so much a consumer can do to ensure food safety. Buying at farmers’ markets can be extremely expensive, thus making most Americans rely on the large food industries to provide clean, healthy, and good produce (CPH). Furthermore, with the increase in supply and demand “Controlling human pathogens on fresh vegetables, fruits and nuts is imperative” (CA) yet it seems like a rather impossible task with the pressure of industry and government sources. This leaves for the public to rely not only on the honesty and caution of these corporations but the FDA to mandate regulations.

In conclusion the food industries need to take responsibility for the negative outcomes that have occurred because of their product and be regulated by the FDA to ensure the public’s health. The government has not been much help when having past corporations trialed for these foodborne illnesses, but with the help of new regulations and the FDA there shall be more caution when using chemicals. These large corporations need to change their form of production and follow these mandated laws that the FDA has instilled to protect the public’s health.

– Melany Suarez

1. Baur, Patrick, et al. “Inconsistent Food Safety Pressures Complicate Environmental Conservation for California Produce Growers.” California Agriculture, vol. 70, no. 3, Jul-Sep2016, pp. 142-151. EBSCOhost, doi:10.3733/ca.2016a0006.

2. Taylor, Michael R. and Howard R. Sklamberg. “Internationalizing Food Safety: FDA’s Role in the Global Food System.” Harvard International Review, vol. 37, no. 3, Spring2016, pp. 32-37. EBSCOhost,

3. “Food-Related Illness and Death in the United States – Volume 5, Number 5-October 1999 – Emerging Infectious Disease journal – CDC.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 15 Dec. 2010. Web. 7 Apr. 2017.

4. Meah, Angela. “Still Blaming the Consumer? Geographies of Responsibility in Domestic Food Safety Practices.” Critical Public Health, vol. 24, no. 1, Mar. 2014, pp. 88-103. EBSCOhost, doi:10.1080/09581596.2013.791387.

5. Fig. 1 “Cooking Tumblr.” Accessed April 18, 2017.

The Power of The People

Individuals seeking to promote change within the food industry must first overcome the size of the industry itself. All of us can be active participants in the change of a broken food system. These companies do not only directly affect those who consume food, but also the natural environment and local economies. Many people who purchase these products every day do not realize that they have more power than they think over the food industry.

Consumer demand is a powerful tool that can be used to change the way that food manufacturers and suppliers decide to market and develop new foods. When large companies and industries see customers moving away from a product, causing to drop sales; They seek ways to adapt to the social issue. The smart business response is to develop a substitute product that is more in-line with customer needs. An excellent example of the power of customer demand is the shift that has taken place in the dairy industry: due to declining dairy sales, many food companies have invested in developing non-dairy alternative like nut milks and plant-based cheese substitutes. Non-dairy milk substitutes have exploded in popularity; they are now widely found in grocery stores all over the world. The Journal “The Globe and Mail” posted an article by Eric Atkins addressing this change, and he states that “The milk sale continues to slide as diets, society shift away from dairy”. The availability of these substitutes is the direct result of customers deciding to opt for healthier and more sustainable food choices. Another way the dairy industry has responded to customer demand has been the removal of growth hormones in milk and offering organic dairy products. This shift to improved quality of dairy products is due to the buying habits of individuals.

Overwhelmingly, the most difficult and most disheartening problem individuals have is the affordability of healthy food. In order to develop better solutions for this issue the researchers at the health department over at Harvard T.H. Chan explains that “Meta-analysis pinpoints the price difference of consuming a healthy diet, which could be burden for low-income families but is trivial compared with health costs of eating an unhealthy diet”. Unhealthy, packaged food products are cheaper than healthier foods like produce. A boxed meal is cheaper than tomatoes, so some families are drawn to unhealthier options simply due to budget constraints. A solution to this issue would be to lobby government bodies to heavily subsidize produce rather than subsidizing corn, wheat, meat, and dairy. Unfortunately, this would also require a large cultural shift, as all of the aforementioned food groups are pillars in diets all around the world. Social change is required as well: consumers must not only influence the companies that provide their food, but also their neighbors and friends. This is difficult, but grassroots efforts led at the community level can spark positive change. The creation of community gardens in large cities provide unique opportunities for individuals to learn more about their food and understand the importance of health and sustainability. More initiatives led on the local level can spark the changes needed in the system to inspire and empower consumers to make health conscious choices.

There are many practical solutions to feeling overwhelmed in the face of the food industry. Conscious decisions made by consumers shape the industry, and local efforts surrounding food shape communities. Hopefully these positive trends continue as buyers continue to demand higher quality food with little to no negative impact on the health of the world and the balance of Earth.

Lucas Campos

1. Atkins, Eric. 2015. “Milk Sales.” The Globe and Mail.

2. Dwyer, Marge. 2013. “Eating Healthy vs. Unhealthy.Harvard T.H. Chan.

3. Figure 1, “United Food Brands”. Web. 26 Apr. 2017.

Consuming Corn

Corn is America’s biggest and most profitable plant in its entire food industry. Every year, 90 million acres of farmland are designated and used for corn production only. Corn makes a huge part of the U.S, but is it all beneficial to us, the average American, and the land we live in? Consumers of America should be more aware of the importance of corn in their lives because, as it may be very useful and positive attributes, corn also has many negative drawbacks to it as well. This super-food has taken root in our country, but where did it start?

Corn started out as a grass in Mexico thousands of years ago that looked very different than what it is today. 7000 years ago, corn was a grass called Teosinte. Domestication of corn led to it becoming  high fructose corn syrup, a form of high calorie fat that also acted as a sweetener. This coupled with the huge amount corn led to thousands of products being made with this new discovery. Corn can be found in foods such as cereal, breads, and sweets. Corn can even be found in non food items like makeup, name brand shampoos, diapers, glue, perfumes, and even aspirin. Corn is cheap to farm, it creates huge yields, and can be easily broken down to become parts of millions of products and foods. It’s the perfect food, can there be any downsides.

The corn we enjoy so much might also be a huge downfall for America. So much of our food and lives come from corn, which leads to many asking how it could affect Americans negatively. Corn that is used as high-fructose corn syrup in foods is not healthy at all for people. Corn syrup is a fake grain syrup filled with sugar that turns into fat. High-fructose corn syrup is one of the big components of obesity in America. Corn also is a very greedy plant. Farmland is growing weary with how much resources it takes to grow a stalk of corn. Corn also craves water and is affected greatly by any type of water shortage. So much of our economy is based on corn but it can also come crashing down in a moment. Corn is not very sustainable for the environment, taking many nutrients with it. Corn has also been the root problem with GMO poisoning recently. Even with all of its amazing qualities, corn’s reputation is only getting worst. Consumers need another solution for corn and its growing reach.

Corn is becoming a negative force in the wake of its sustainability. Consumers of America should be more aware of the importance of corn in their lives because it makes up so much of our lives. Corn has taken root in our economy and still growing, but one day it might all pop like a kernel in a microwave.

-Kevin Moraga

Works Cited

  1. Conca, James. “12 surprising Things that contain Corn.” Forbes. Forbes Magazine, 26 Apr. 2014. Web. 20 Apr. 2017.
  2. Geiling, Natashasa. “Is There Such a Thing As Sustainable Corn?” Modern Farmer. N.p., 06 May 2016. Web. 20 Apr. 2017.
  3. “History: The Story of All of Us Corn.” YouTube. YouTube, 07 Sept. 2015. Web. 20 Apr. 2017.
  4. Fig 1.Corn encompassing child.

Animal or Dollar Sign?

People have been slaughtering animals since the very beginning of time for food. Before factories and machinery became prevalent, farmers had no choice but to grass feed their farm animals and then slaughter them near home. The animals were able to roam freely and grow naturally in their own time. They received vitamins and nutrients from the sun and the earth. In many situations people needed the meat to survive.

Over time, the meat farming business changed in multiple ways. One change was that the demand for meat became much higher and pressure was laid on meat farmers to produce much more and faster. Another change was the way in which the animals were raised. Because of the pressure to produce more meat, more animals had to be raised and faster. This made it nearly impossible to raise a large bulk of animals outside because of the space they would take up and the slower pace it would take them to grow.

Although it seems that many meat farms are still treating and raising their animals with dignity and health because of the way the companies are advertised, the demand for more meat and the demand to produce it faster has brought on many significant changes for the animals themselves. Animals began to be seen less as a survival tool and more as a production in order to get paid. As animals became more of a means to get paid, the way they were treated began to severely decline. In a recording caught on a meat farm, the footage this person saw was written down. This is what they saw, “A worker demonstrated the method for euthanizing underweight piglets: taking them by the hind legs and smashing their skulls against the concrete floor—a technique known as ‘thumping.’ Their bloodied bodies were then tossed into a giant bin, where video showed them twitching and paddling until they died, sometimes long after.” Stories like this are much more common than the majority of people in America realize. The problem is that instances like these are hidden from the common eye frequently, for two reasons. The first reason is that meat farmers do not want anyone finding out about these unorthodox ways and trying to change things because that would harm the farmers’ fast rate of production. The second reason is that many consumers do not truly want to know that horrific things like this happen.

If animals continue to be raised this way, the quality of meat will continue to decline and the health of those that are eating this meat will be endangered. In order to produce quality meat, be conscious about our environment, and continue to help our economy there needs to be a change. Animals need to be raised organically and treated humanely and consumers need to be made aware of what is in their food and how their meat was raised.

Ashley DeWitt

  1. Figure 1, “Farm Cows.” Photo taken from
  2. Ted Genoways, “Animals Suffer Needlessly for Food Production.”  Vegetarianism, 2015