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.        http://straighthealth.com/pages/qna/healthyfoodexpensive.html.

2. Fig 1: Fast Food vs Healthy Produce. https://www.dherbs.com/articles/featured-articles/unk-food-makes-our-brains-less-adaptable/

Meet the Meat

Chicken Little? When it comes to confronting corporate abuses, chicken farmers chicken out. Now we’re left with oversized chickens, corporations, and jeans. It’s time to see what’s really in the butcher’s bucket.

The meat industry seems to have ingeniously invented a way to make food cheap, quick, and uniform, but in the process they are crumbling animal rights by inhumanely turning their farms into factories, destroying the natural environment while negatively affecting consumers, and gaining immense power while abusing chicken farmers as they construct a deceptive environment behind the scenes.

McDonald’s may be known for being unhealthy, but that doesn’t stop the food chain from being one of the most powerful fast-food chains in America. Their game-changing idea of making interchangeable food has paid off. According to Food Inc, suppliers had to create a factory environment to match the fast-food market in order to stay on top of the economic game. Chickens are raised and killed in half the time they were 50 years ago and are now twice as big (Food Inc.). In order to make the animals plump enough for business, they are fed growth-inducing hormones that can cause painful inflammation of the udder known as mastitis (Geer). The animals are forced to live in crowded warehouses where they will walk the crammed spaces on their own feces. Because of the unnatural size, they acquire due to what they are fed, many become too heavy to walk on their own two feet and die of starvation or dehydration (Food Inc.). Old-fashioned farming has disappeared, as money and speed have become the two predominant factors to suppliers, taking precedence over health, quality, and human decency.

Moreover, many of the health issues that plague the animals have now translated to humans. The hormones have caused an increase in the risk of breast, prostate, and colon cancer in meat consumers (Farm Sanctuary). Huffington Post says that more than 80% of antibiotics produced were fed to livestock because of unsanitary conditions. These drugs are actually contributing to the spread of super bugs that thrive in the absence of weaker microbes (Huffington Post). Diseases like E. Coli, salmonella, swine flu, and avian flu are communicable from animals and are being passed on to humans.

Worse still, the top four meat-supplying companies control 80% of the market, as opposed to the 25% that was controlled by the top five companies in the 1970’s (Food Inc.). Farmers go into debt buying resources and stay in debt because of all the forced upgrades. They have no say in the treatment of the chickens and if they refuse to upgrade to a dark tunnel-ventilated house system, their contract can be terminated. Because of the payment system, farmers who produce fatter chickens with less feed get raises while the others get pay cuts. Last Week Tonight states chicken farmers live below the poverty line. If a farmer dares to speak out, companies will retaliate through pay cuts and inferior supplies (Oliver). Nothing is done about this because these large companies sponsor many of our representatives in congress. Protective rules for poultry farmers were written, but they are not being enforced because a rider is inserted into the Agricultural Appropriations bill that forbids the USDA from enforcing these rules (Oliver).

The path humans now tread is one of misery for animals and consumers alike. In a capitalist system, it is not surprising that corporations will go the extra mile to rake in more dough, but some are now arriving at surreal ends through despicable means. The public cannot continue to ignore the fine print. Together we can make the issue a more prominent topic until change becomes a reality.

-Christine Magnuson


1. Food Inc. Dir. Robert Kenner. Official Food, Inc. Movie Site – Hungry For Change? N.p.,n.d. Web. 13 Apr. 2017. http://www.foodincmovie.com/.

2. Oliver, John.”Scandals.” Last Week Tonight. 17 May 2017. Youtube. Web. 28 Mar.https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X9wHzt6gBgI&t=821s.

3.”9 Facts About Factory Farming That Will Break Your Heart.” Huffington Post. Huffington Post, 17 Mar. 2014. Web. 28 Mar. 2017. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/03/17/factory-farming-facts_n_4063892.html.

Is it really “Farm Fresh?”

In the present time, our food is usually marketed in stores as being “Farm Fresh,” which gives shoppers a sense of trust of the idea that farms still make and produce foods like they did in the early 1900’s. However, modern food production appears to be more of a factory than an idealistic farm setting. Though people may think differently, thousands of chickens are packed into dark, poorly ventilated houses. On account of these corrupted companies compete over the domination of the market and keep turning profits, production animals everywhere are suffering.

In my research, my interest was taken in the subjects on if the animals in the farms have the right to have a certain quality of life. In the food production industry, the major corporations control the quality of the products being produced by major providers. These providers tend to only care about profit and not the well-being of the animals they produce. One example in the documentary “Food Inc.” was related to chickens. The chickens were mass produced by big corporations such as Tyson and Perdue and have been engineered for the chickens to grow four times the size of a normal chicken in a short amount of time. Though the skin and muscle have been designed to grow very quickly, the bones and internal organs of these modified chickens can not keep up. The documentary showed several clips of these mutant chickens taking a few steps and then having to lay back down because their bodies can not support their weight. Production animals such as cattle should be fed grasses and roots of the land instead of corn, which they are not meant to consume and digest.  If we decide not to abide by these rules, society’s actions of pertaining food can be detrimental to our planet.

I believe that these food and animal processors should aim toward using renewable energy or process wastes to produce energy. Providing safe and nutritious food remains a leading priority for the food industry. It is so important to continue this life cycle of food products where we can use our resources effectively and harvest the foods, so it will not be permanently damaged.

Jamison G. Tsuchiya


  1. “Harman’s Place!” Do Animals have the right to a certain quality of life? Accessed April 18, 2017. http://harman-thes-classover7-series.blogspot.com/p/do-animals-have-right-to-certain.html.
  2. “Factory Farming: Misery for Animals.” PETA. Accessed April 20, 2017. http://www.peta.org/issues/animals-used-for-food/factory-farming/.
  3. “Chickens.” Farm Sanctuary. Accessed April 20, 2017. https://www.farmsanctuary.org/learn/factory-farming/chickens/.

Fig. 1. The Chicken of Tomorrow needs to be the Chicken of Yesterday (http://heritagefoodsusa.com/)