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: https://www.google.com/search?q=healthy+food&source=lnms&tbm=isch&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwiy6O-P7szTAhWGRyYKHUkMB1wQ_AUIBigB&biw=1256&bih=699#imgrc=OZD13MYHUSNaaM:

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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.

The Dollar Menu and Its Risks

Homemade Burger

Fast foods and processed foods are a big part of American lifestyles today. Fast and processed foods are easily accessible and affordable which is why they maintain their popularity. However, only a few consumers are fully aware of the contents that are in those foods. Because fast food and processed foods are cheaper than healthy foods, they are more affordable for low-income Americans. However, they are negatively affected by the processed foods over time. Every American should have the right to know what exactly is in their food and have the right to access healthy food without worrying about costs in order to avoid health issues such as obesity and diabetes.

Many nutritional professionals believe that all Americans, regardless of income, have equal access to a nutritious diet of whole grains, lean meats, and fresh vegetables and fruit. In reality, food prices pose a significant barrier for many consumers who are trying to balance good nutrition with affordability. “When incomes drop and family budgets shrink, food choices shift toward cheaper but more energy-dense foods. The first items dropped are usually healthier foods – high-quality proteins, whole grains, vegetables and fruit. Low cost energy-rich starches, added sugars, and vegetable fats represent the cheapest way to fill hungry stomachs.”¹

A consequence of regular and habitual consumption of these types of food is potential of chronic diseases such as obesity and type 2 diabetes. In fact, diet-related chronic diseases are one of the leading causes of death in the United States and they tend to greater affect those having low income. “Low-income [Americans] tend to have diets that promote obesity, morbidity, and premature mortality, are low in fruits and vegetables, and are high in processed and fast foods.”²

Sustainability is the capacity to endure or continue. According to the Weisser essay on sustainability, “if a thing or an activity is sustainable, it can be reused, recycled, or repeated in some way because it has not exhausted all of the resources or energy required to create it.” Based on this definition of sustainability, fast and processed foods are not sustainable at all. All ingredients that are put into fast and processed foods are not used appropriately to increase the nutritional value of the foods. Instead, they are used to increase the energy put into the food but at the same time are used to decrease its nutritional value because of all the negative counter-effects such as higher risk of diet-related chronic diseases.

In order to increase sustainability related to the issue of food, which is a necessity in maintaining life, each and every American should know exactly what is in their food and should have the access to healthier food choices that they can afford. A way to solve this problem is nutrition profiling. “Nutrient profiling involves systematically ranking or classifying foods on the basis of nutrient content, through calculation of key nutrient content, relative to dietary energy. Nutrient-rich foods provide relatively more nutrients than calories.”¹

When every American gain access and the right of way to healthy foods, there will be an increase in sustainability.

Hyunji Park


1. Drewnowski, Adam, and Petra Eichelsdoerfer. “Can Low-Income Americans Afford a Healthy Diet?” Nutrition today. November 2010. Accessed April 20, 2017. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2847733/.

2. Lucan, Sean C., Frances K. Barg, and Judith A. Long. “Promoters and Barriers to Fruit, Vegetable, and Fast-Food Consumption Among Urban, Low-Income African Americans—A Qualitative Approach.” American Journal of Public Health. April 2010. Accessed April 20, 2017. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2836356/.

Picture credits: http://topreviewtracking.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/04/Dollarphotoclub_61600915.jpg

 

Animal Rights to a Certain Quality of Life

Humans have excluded themselves as the superior group of animals placing themselves on top of the food chain. The idea of humans as the superior specie in the animal kingdom is excused by many because of their more developed cognitive abilities. This superiority causes humans to ignore the rights of other animals or simply blinds them to the issue of animal abuse already occurring. Animals should have the right to a certain quality of life because they are conscious beings capable of experimenting emotions, their importance in everyday human life, and the knowledge gained from studying them.

The school of thought that advocates for the lack of emotions in animals has roots in an ancient Greek philosophy that animals have no soul, therefore, are incapable of feeling emotions. Famous philosophers such as Aristotle were strong promoters of this idea (Allen, Colin). Animals were portrayed as mere reflex-driven machines with no intellectual capacity. This image has been passed down throughout history and is very much intact today. The lack of care for animal rights is exposed every day in slaughterhouses where thousands of animals live their whole lives in filthy, tight spaces, are fed with harmful growth hormones, and are killed in horrendous ways. Major food companies are looking to meet the demand for fast and cheap animal produce without a concern for the lives of the animals. Although the U.S government has passed Humane Slaughter laws, they are hardly ever kept (Library, National). These animals are raised in their own manure, and are often tortured before they die. Jonathan Balcombe, the director of the Human Society Institute for Science and Policy, has executed experiments that prove his hypothesis of the presence of animal emotions. He observes animal behavior when petting takes place. In 2014 he studied the behavior of goats and sheep. Each individual animal had different preferred petting spots; they all reacted differently when the petting stopped. Enjoyment was a clear emotion shown; aggression also took place when one of the animals was not petted correctly. Balcombe states, “Watching these creatures pursue their wants and needs reminds me that they are individuals with intentions and preferences” (Balcombe, Jonathan).

It is reasonable to assume that not every person in the world will leave animal products as a food source; they do contain nutritional value after all. The change does not have to be found in the overall termination of animal farming, but in the alternatives to factory farming. Large industries see animals as unit numbers of production or property. The degrading conditions animals live in can be reduced if local and smaller farms, businesses, and movements are able to complete the process (Farming, Beyond). This system will unleash a chain reaction of animal care that will be reflected in other aspects of animal abuse. Many animals experience as much or more emotions than a human baby; therefore, they deserve better treatment than what they have been receiving for decades.

Sergio Monterroso


  1. Allen, Colin, and Michael Trestman. “Animal Consciousness.” Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy. Stanford University, 23 Dec. 1995. Web. 06 Apr. 2017.
  2. Library, National Agricultural. “Humane Methods of Slaughter Act.” United States Department of Agriculture. United States Department of Agriculture, n.d. Web. 06 Apr. 2017.
  3. Balcombe, Jonathan. “Yes, Animals Have Feelings.” LiveScience. Purch, 10 Dec. 2014. Web. 06 Apr. 2017.
  4. Farming, Beyond Factory. “Beyond Factory Farming.” Alternatives to Factory Farming | Beyond Factory Farming. N.p., Oct. 2015. Web. 06 Apr. 2017.
  5. http://www.godvine.com/read/10-hugs-from-animal-friends-489.html

Animal Lives Matter

Animals, the living breathing creatures besides humans. Some people have them as pets, others run free in the wild, but the majority of animals are used for food. Around 9 billion land animals are killed each year in the U.S. to produce meat, dairy, and eggs. That is about one million every hour. On the other hand, the number of aquatic animals killed for food is in the trillions. These animals don’t even get to live a healthy normal life, Because the demand for animal based foods is very high, that the need for certain animal rights is being compromised.

Animals need water, food, oxygen, temperature, and a habitat to live. Most of the animals that are raised for food tend to have all these five elements, but majority of them do not have the proper forms of these elements. Animals that are raised by major food industries do not have the rights that they deserve. I am not saying that animals need to have the same rights as humans, but they need to be entitled to certain living rights for their benefit and consumers benefits.

A lack in quality of the elements and animal needs, can lead to major issues. These issues can range from things like diseases, deficiencies, and death. Any of those issues that develops in an animal will later be present in that animals meet, milk, etc, which the consumers then purchase and get sick and can possibly die.

Unfortunately, animal food products will most likely continue to be consumed, because animal products contain many nutrients and tastes good. Therefore, it is so important to give animals certain living rights that gives them a better quality of life, not only for them but also for the consumers. First, water should be clean and available to them all the time. Second, food should be clean and matched to the animal. Both food and water are ingested through the mouth, which means if unclean or not the right kind, they can easily cause the animals to develop sicknesses and diseases. Third, the animals should have access to air from the outside. This helps clean out their system, and helps them not to spread the disease as fast. Fourth, the animals need to have access to the right temperature and not whatever the farmers deem right. Fifth, the animals should have more space to move around and clean manure free floors. This will keep most of the diseases away. This will cause animals to be healthier, which in turn gives us a better quality in animal produce.

-Rodny Aquino


  1. Skip Davis, “5 Basic Needs of an Animal,” Sciencing, , accessed April 17, 2017, http://sciencing.com/5-basic-needs-animal-12001250.html.
  2. Food, Inc., dir. Robert Kenner, by Elise Pearlstein and Kim Roberts (USA: Magnolia Home Entertainment, 2008), DVD.
  3. Fig. 1. Chickens born and raised in a nasty spaceless room. http://www.occupy.com/article/factory-farming-divestment-movement-puts-animal-welfare-spotlight#sthash.YujMpXFc.dpuf