Final Essay 1

Submitted By laurencalifornia
Words: 1657
Pages: 7

Lauren Butler
ESPM 60
Final Essay #1

Corn Subsidies in America
In a highly industrial country built on short cuts, the government provides subsidies to a few commodity or “cash” crops as a means to mass-producing cheap food to feed our multiplying population. What this means is the government pays farmers to produce large amounts of crops that can be manipulated and used in many different ways, making them highly profitable because they are produced at such a low cost. America’s #1 cash crop is corn. A byproduct of corn is in almost every item of the average American’s diet. From our greasy burger patties that come from corn fed cows, the hamburger buns made from cornstarch, the fries fried in corn oil, and even your drink made with high fructose corn syrup. It not only infests fast foods, but it is in many of the items on the shelves of the local grocery store. Corn might seem like the hero to run to when considering the amount of affordable food it produces, but, especially in its syrup form, it is actually the swindler to avoid. It is no hidden fact that High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS) is linked directly to obesity; many studies from credible institutes such as Princeton have proved this1. The authorization of corn subsidies by the government, outlined in the 2008 Farm Act, ultimately allows products containing the unhealthy byproduct to be sold at a price much cheaper than its price of production, flooding the kitchens of most of American families who can’t afford to eat healthier2. There is a higher population of obese adults in the Southern states where there is higher instances of poverty. The abundant availability of dirt-cheap unhealthy foods in low-income neighborhoods where citizens are trying to stretch their dollar while getting a filling meal, make for a disproportion distribution of the countries health issues related to eating habits. This is just one social challenge raised by the US industrial food system’s subsidizing of corn. Like any scheme that brings in more revenue, giant food processing companies support corn subsidies because it allows them to produce a wide variety of foodstuffs at a very cheap price. The “no correlation” frame is very common among discourses about high fructose corn syrup and corn subsidies; it supports the notion that high fructose corn syrup has no relation to obesity. This frame basically argues that a high consumption of any sweetener would lead to a worsening diet and that people would consume a large amount of sweeteners in the same amount whether they be high fructose corn syrup or not. This frame comes to the conclusion that obesity therefore should not be linked to diets high in HFCS but rather a diet high in sweeteners in general. A frame attacking research findings is a typical frame for large food processing companies not only because scientific results can easily be challenged, but also because these wealthy companies have the means to fund research projects aimed at producing results that negate those negative conclusions. The “no correlation” frame is also affective in influencing the way that the general public views the issue because most people won’t take the time to do research on the topic, they will rely on a false notion of consumer trust. The lack of consumer pressure allows the subsidies to persist letting policy-makers slip by without addressing the health and social issues that the subsidies pose. A lot of remedies for issues start with education. Making people aware of the reality of the food they eat will help them make a better-informed decision when deciding their meal. The first policy option I propose it so get products laced with high fructose corn syrup out of schools, current playgrounds of chips, cookies, sodas, and juices. If we start to shape and solidify the importance of a healthier diet at a younger age (and continue it even into high school, where nutrition choices decline again because kids are thought to be more “responsible”) it…