J500 Media and the Environment

The Dinner Table: The New American Feedlot by Janie

Dinner’s ready and what’s on the table?

Corn, corn, and more corn!

That steak on your plate?  Corn bred and fed.  Ready-made rolls?  Corn produced modified starch.  Coca-cola?  High fructose corn syrup.  Bell peppers?  Coated with corn ethanol wax for shine.

Made possible by evolutionary advantage and government subsidies, these fields of sweet golden ears have risen to  God-like status on the agricultural hierarchy.  Monocultures of the stuff wave in the Midwestern wind, testaments to our conversion from dinner table to feedlot.  Its abundance have allowed it to manifest in most of the foods we eat, an addition that has made the modern diet of fast, processed, and cheap food possible.  The consequences of our corn worship, however, has lay waste to human health.

Our self-induced corn-fed daze is not unlike that of another American food icon: the cow.  Though naturally grass-eaters, cows are switched to a diet of hormones, antibiotics, and corn at a young age in order to “beef up the beef,” you might say.  Simply, cows need calories and corn is calories.  It’s only economical, to maximize calories and minimize costs, isn’t it?

We now know, in our waistlines and in the nutrition of our beef, that cheap corn calories is not a alliteration we want to use.  The low cost of corn allows for the low cost of processed foods– products targeted and affordable to those with low incomes, those who now make up a large percentage of America’s obese.  Likewise, corn-fed beef contains a more saturated fats and requires more antibiotics to combat their corn-created health problems.

We hail corn as the new king crop, the solution to an increasing population, and the answer to our fossil fuel problem.  Yet I fear that this new king may be Ozymandias himself in disguise, ready to lay waste to the environment and our health in order to build artificial monuments in his name.

Janie Chen

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