Michael Pollan tells us in the first part of The Omnivore’s Dilemma that, “’You are what you eat’ is a truism hard to argue with,” (84) and he goes even farther to tell us that we, “are what what you eat eats, too,” (84) and in this case, it’s mainly corn.
The amount of corn that we consume in our diets is absolutely breathtaking and not in a positive way. Pollan depicts an efficient food system in which there is standardization of corn all the way to feed lots where cows end up eating cows and then we go ahead and eat the cows. We have engineered the new, efficient food chain and at what cost? The cows are getting diseases that are traced back into their diets, farmers are going bankrupt raising this cheap corn, and corn is taking over complete areas of land that can be seen from outer space. Absolute corn takeover.
It’s difficult to keep it all straight.
The question that comes to my mind while reading the first section is, how much is the $1 coke at McDonald’s costing me, really. Pollan discusses our obese nation that is hungering for some sort of comfort in this enriched, salty, fattening food, and yet it is this food that is only reminiscent of what we want. How much chicken is actually in the chicken nugget?
Gluttony has been used against us. They’ve supersized our portions to make us feel less gluttonous, and allowed there to be some traces of strange ingredients like lighter fluid in our food. 19% of meals are eaten in the car. Advertising has changed what they are actually selling, we are no longer buying the food, but rather the status, or the packaging, or something else entirely.
Scarier yet, it can all be traced back to corn.
This makes me think about the drought that we had this year and how that will affect this whole system. What if something happened to corn? Looking back on history it seems silly to base a whole system off one crop. Why do not more people notice this, and I guess problematically what would they do even if they did? How much corn is in the cafeteria? My stomach hurts from considering it.
One of my parent’s friends works in cereal at Kellogg’s in Battle Creek, Michigan. He used to bring over new cereals and pop tarts that were being tested. I am reminded of the bowling pin cereal. We all buy into it every time we’re at the grocery store. What makes me even more nervous is how can we ever go back from what we’ve already done, the food system, the natural, biological aspect, and our society.