Escaping the Dollar Menu

My latest English assignment was to write an essay on the topic of sustainability in response to a chapter from the film Food Inc.,. The chapter that I chose was titled “The Dollar Menu”, which discussed the concept of subsidized crops- the food industry’s newest, cheapest, jewel. Subsidized crops, which don’t hold all of the nutrients that people need, are mass produced in such a way that allows the products they’re transformed into to be cheaper than ever. Subsidized crops are often the main ingredient in unhealthy options such as fast food, sodas, and snacks. While they’ve become the virtual “dollar menu” of today, fresh, organic, produce is priced much higher in comparison.

In addition, recent developments in genetic modifications have also allowed food industry giants to mass produce white meat. Chickens now develop in nearly half the time that they would some years ago, and can barely stand because of the weight of their own breasts. Faster mass production enabled by subsidized crops and genetic modification helps drive down the price of these unhealthy products, selling more at a cheaper rate. The same industry giants seem to care much more about slaughtering and selling as fast as possible than any idea of sustainability. The same companies also do not seem to be concerned that their products lead to diet-related illnesses, such as the diabetes in the father of the family that Food Inc. interviewed.

The greed of these food companies has destroyed the bodily sustainability of low income families who have only enough money to partake in the “gift of ‘The Dollar Menu’” everyday. The gap between fresh produce of the organics store and America’s famous dollar menu came as quite a shock to me when I first arrived at Southern in August. Being from a sub-tropical island where things such as aloe and avocados have never held a price to me, I was quite surprised to witness my roommate purchase both of these items at the grocery store for more than the cost of a McDonalds cheeseburger. In my home country, although these things are sold in grocery stores, everyone has the choice to instead go outdoors and pick them for free. At first, I thought it a shame that low income Americans have no choice but to partake of the unhealthy quick-meals. As I continued to watch the interview with the diabetic dad, I realized that, though it is more difficult, Americans do have a choice. An article by StraightHealth[1] states,

“Part of the problem with healthy foods being so “expensive” is the definition of price. Healthy foods are higher in nutrients and satisfy you for a much longer period of time. A better way to measure the price of food is to look at price/nutrient or price/satiety ratios. If you look at these comparisons, the price is not so different”.

While the sacrifice to purchase these organics may be expensive- is it any more expensive than future diabetes medication? Each of us must make this decision- before “The Dollar Menu” proceeds to make it for us.

-Mish Hughes

1.  Bendor, Ken. “Why are healthy foods expensive?” Straight Health.

2. Fig 1: Fast Food vs Healthy Produce.


The Potential of Food Labels

Today, about 80% of the food that are processed and bought by the consumers are genetically modified, or known as GMOs (Hemphill). As food technology and nutirion science advance and companies seek profit over nutrition in the food, clear food labeling is no longer there for the people to understand what is in the food that they are eating everyday. The GMOs are products that are made by the scientists who are experts in this field, and it is difficult for those who are not as educated as them to understand how modified foods are made and composed of. Even though it may be difficult to get rid of GMOs due to increase in number of companies that profit off of GMOs, the regulators and companies should label and inform about the GMOs in their product with easier descriptions that many could easily understand what is inside their food.

GMOs are known to cause many health problems in our body. According to an article, “Spilling the Beans: Unintended GMO Health Risks,” the rats were fed with Bt corn, which is a genetically modified corn, for up to 120 days. The result was that the rats developed myriads of health problems such as changes in blood cells, kidneys, and livers (Smith). Likewise, a study shown in an article “Arpad Pusztai and the risks of Genetic Engineering,” DNA of soybeans were altered with a gene from Brazil nuts. While after, scientists saw that those modified beans were altered to cause allergic reactions. These genetically modified foods are hard for us to evaluate due to lack of knowledge on them. However, easy-to-understand descriptions and clear labeling would help consumers to be aware of what they are eating and know how consuming the product can impact their health, helping them to make better food choices. 

The current problem of labeling food product is that big companies have too much power over the regulations with their immense money. An example can be seen in lobbying process by Monsanto, the largest seed corporations in the world. This company produces seeds that are genetically modified in way that the seeds resist herbicides and weed killers. When the citizens try to protest or take action against the GMOs that they are making, Monsanto prevents any laws from passing by paying immense money to the lobbyists. This corporation is said to spend an average of six billion dollars on lobbying every year (Sarich). If their modified products are as safe as they say they are, corporations like Monsanto should not be afraid of labeling their products. And by adding these labels, it would make consumers should feel safer as some may feel cautious of eating GMOs. Even though labeling more on the products may cost more money for the companies, it should be regulated as spending on lobbying costs a lot of money as well, and companies should know that trust from the consumer is a big factor that will make their business more successful and sustainable.

It can be overwhelming to think about the corruption of our government and big businesses that only revolve around making a profit. But we need to take time to learn and look deeper into how things are regulated and what we are eating on daily basis. We need to realize these hidden facts that the big companies are hiding and fix it for the sustainable food system and future generations to come.

Edward Choi

1.Hemphill, Thomas A., and Syagnik Banerjee. “Mandatory Food Labeling For Gmos.” Regulation 37.4 (2014): 7-10. Business Source Premier. Web. 8 Apr. 2015.

2.Smith, Jeffrey . “Spilling the Beans: Unintended GMO Health Risks.” Organic Consumers. N.p., n.d. Web. 19 Apr 2013.

3.Sarich, Christina. “The 10 Companies Controlling the World’s Seed Supply.”Nation of Change.   N.p., 21 Oct. 2013. Web. 13 Apr. 2015.

4.Fig.1. GMO Bell Pepper Injection.

What’s in your Food?

The very inclination for knowledge about our foods is just one reason of many why consumers should be able to view and know what goes into our foods and then into our bodies. Consumers need to be able to overcome this veil that food companies put up not because of knowledge sake alone, but for health risks, smart decision making that promote a healthy society.

Health is one of the biggest risks consumers place on the line when it comes to not knowing what is in the foods people eat and where it comes from. The shocking truth is that according t
o the Center For Food Safety, “It has been estimated that upwards of 75% of processed foods on supermarket shelves” (Center For Food Safety). But what does that mean? How does GMO foods affect the body negatively? Studies have shown that GMO based foods have a high risk of causing health issues such as heart diseases, liver failure, and even cancer. A lot of people prefer not to eat GMO based foods because of these reasons, but some food companies are starting to take labels off their products to improve marketing. The more companies try to cover up the fact they are trying to give the consumers harmful ingredients, the more customers need to fight back and demand their right for those descriptions and labels for smarter decisions making.

Making a choice on any topic is better made when knowing all the information that it is all about. Just by knowing what foods are no good for the consumers because the content is genetically modified or not is vital for consumer safety. The more knowledge a consumer has, the more power they have over big name corporations that try to take advantage of consumers by taking the labels of products. Knowing what goes into our foods and knowing how to choice and decipher what is good and what isn’t is a big thing to learn as a consumer. The educational system should educate society better in those aspects about what is good for us and what is not. If society wants to get better at eating healthy, we need to implement more food and health education to help people make better choices. Better choices equal a healthier society which leads to better outlook on foods and what to eat. An article called Front-of-Pack Food Labeling and the Politics of Nutritional Nudges, talks about how much healthier society would be with greater knowledge about the things we eat while also pin pointing the flaws in labeling tactics in some food companies. (Gyorgy 244).

This metaphoric veil of ambiguity of what’s in our foods wither needs to be torn down or we as consumers need to be better educated. Making the smart decision on what food is better and what food is bad will improve society’s health issues such as disease and cancer. Knowing what goes in your food and where it’s very vital and will benefit the consumer in the long run because of the large risks that consumers take every day not knowing how much of the food they eat is GMO products

——– Bruno Benna

  1. “Campaigns |.” Center for Food Safety. N.p., n.d. Web. 7 Apr. 2017.
  2. Schubert, David. “Science Supports the Need for GM Food Labeling.” Science Supports the Need for GM Food Labeling Vol. 29.1 (Jan 2016): 6-9. Print.
  3. Scrinis, Gyorgy, and Christine Parker. “Front-of-Pack Food Labeling and the Politics of Nutritional Nudges.” Law & Policy 38.3 (2016): 234-49. Web.
  4. Topping1234. “How Many People Have Died over GMOs.” Topping1234. N.p., 06 Feb. 2014. Web. 2017.

An Issue of Corn Production

Most people would perceive corn as a delicious side dish, however, a lot of people don’t realize that it’s in the majority of the food we eat and everything in between. These include items from breakfast cereals to medicine. The documentary Food, Inc., produced by Robert Kenner and Elise Pearlstein, examines a deeper look into the issues surrounding our food system. The film stated that because farmers are paid to overproduce corn, 30% of land base in the United States is used to plant this crop due to government policy. It stated that an estimate of 90% of processed food products in the grocery store either contain a corn or soybean ingredient, and most of the time both (Food, Inc.). The film also stated that due to the overproduction of corn, food scientist came up with uses for it, which resulted in an abundant amount of foods containing corn in some way, such as high-fructose corn syrup.

This leads to the issue of having GMO (Genetically modified organisms) foods, which is food created in a lab that modifies genetic material of a plant or animal. According to the website Consumer Reports, from the article “GMO foods: What you need to know,” foods made with canola oil, corn, or soy often contain GMOs. Many have argued that GMO enhanced foods should be labeled, and some have gone to argue that people have been eating these modified foods for years and there’s no evidence of people being harmed, however, as stated in the article, just saying there’s no evidence of harm isn’t proving it’s safe. In 2016, Caitlin Shetterly, an investigative journalist, described in Elle magazine of a mysterious illness she developed that stopped after she quit eating certain foods containing corn, from which her doctor later suggested she was allergic to a protein in genetically modified corn (Lantz). Eating corn-based foods continuously could cause health problems, and corn production can affect the environment as well.

In 2013, John Bauer, co-founder of a company called The Foodery in Boston, talked of three downsides through dependence of corn. The first is how continuous consumption of corn-based products could result in diabetes and obesity (Bauer). Bauer stated the second downside is eating corn and it’s many derivatives, they are consuming a substance that’s been contaminated with pesticides and which has been Genetically Modified. The third downside is how corn production could bring environmental damage to soil, water, and air (Bauer). Bauer says that due to corn contributing to feeding livestock, supplying these industries with acreage of corn won’t last forever, and years of pesticide usage can ruin soil, waters can get contaminated, and digestive problems of cattle through grain consumption can result in methane emissions. Altogether, we should have the right to know what goes into making our food, and it’s an issue we should be making more people aware of. It’s shocking to find corn in a majority of things. They as producers shouldn’t be hiding anything from us consumers when it comes down to the food we eat.

Lauren Shelby

  1. Bauer, John. “Corn Is Everywhere.” The Foodery. August 20, 2013. Accessed April 18, 2017.
  2. Food, Inc. By Robert Kenner, Robert Kenner, Robert Kenner, Richard Pearce, Eric Schlosser, Eric Schlosser, Melissa Robledo, William Pohlad, Jeff Skoll, Robin Schorr, Diane Weyermann, Elise Pearlstein, Elise Pearlstein, Kim Roberts, Kim Roberts, Michael Pollan, Michael Pollan, Gary Hirshberg, Joel Salatin, and Mark Adler. Directed by Richard Pearce. Performed by Robert Kenner . Los Angeles, CA: Magnolia Home Entertainment, 2008. DVD.
  3. “GMO foods: What you need to know.” GMO Foods: What You Need to Know – Consumer Reports Magazine. February 26, 2015. Accessed April 18, 2017.
  4. Lantz, Catherine. 2016. “Modified: GMOs and the Threat to Our Food, Our Land, Our Future.” Library Journal 141 (13). Media Source, Inc.: 113–19.
  5. Fig 1. Corn-field.

Secrets​ of the Cornfield

In America, the idea of having a choice on what we eat is usually expected. The problem with this is that most of the foods we eat are a lot more limited than we think. In fact, most of the products you will find in the U.S contain the same couple of ingredients. Consumers are being tricked into thinking they have a long list of choices when they may only have one or two. With this, some may argue if consumers want to know what is in their food, they should be responsible for doing so. While this statement could be thought of as correct because food producers not only hide what their ingredients are, the unsustainable process of which these products are made should support the argument that we as humans have the right to know what is in our food.

When it comes to producing our food, companies will use ingredients that are both cheaper and faster to produce. And with doing this we get the vegetable, corn, being thrown into everything we eat because it is both easy and cheap to produce. According to Executive Director of the California Academy of Sciences, Dr. Jonathan Foley, food producers are molding corn into an array of different unhealthy ingredients like high-fructose corn syrup, corn starch, and even citric acid. Author Michael Pollen spoke in the documentary Food Inc. of how farmers are even feeding cows corn to make them bulkier faster, and because of this our meat suffers greatly. Pollen says, “Cows are not designed by evolution to eat corn, cows are designed by evolution to eat grass.” Because these cows are eating something that they were not designed to eat, the deadly bacterium E Coli 0157:h7 starts to form in their stomachs (Food Inc.). Being in tight corners these cows will stand in their feces all day. Giving food producers no real way to keep the bacteria from leaving our meat (Food Inc.). This showing that food companies are not only putting fattening products in our food without us knowing, but they are also feeding us products that could seriously hurt our health.

Companies are trying their hardest to give us food that is cheap for them to produce, and in turn, they are giving us ingredients that are jeopardizing our health. According to Trace One Manager Chris Morrison, a survey found that about 33% of consumers said they would be willing to pay for information on their food. Morrison stating, “Transparency matters and many consumers are willing to pay for it.” Due to the overwhelming facts, research, and this idea alone, I feel it is safe to say that we as humans have the right to know clearly what is in our food.

Summer Shelby



  1. “Consumers Want to Know More About Where the Ingredients for Their Food Come From.” Food Manufacturing. March 31, 2016. Accessed April 18, 2017.
  1. Foley, Jonathan. “It’s Time to Rethink America’s Corn System.” Scientific American. March 05, 2013. Accessed April 18, 2017.
  1. Food, Inc.By Robert Kenner, Robert Kenner, Robert Kenner, Richard Pearce, Eric Schlosser, Eric Schlosser, Melissa Robledo, William Pohlad, Jeff Skoll, Robin Schorr, Diane Weyermann, Elise Pearlstein, Elise Pearlstein, Kim Roberts, Kim Roberts, Michael Pollan, Michael Pollan, Gary Hirshberg, Joel Salatin, and Mark Adler. Directed by Richard Pearce. 2008.