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CORN-SPIRACY?! Save the planet and end world hunger in one easy step

candy junk foodBy Phreddy Wischusen
Special to the Michigan Citizen

White vinyl letters on the tall windows of the local Aco Hardware store read “Tools- Garden-Electrical-Food and Beverages.” Food and Beverages?! By food and beverages, they mean gum, candy bars and pop.

At what point did we become so spoiled and bored that swallowing a Snickers bar is the only way to battle the momentary ennui of waiting in line to buy rat traps.

Home Depot sells candy at the register and has a hot dog stand in the vestibule. I wish I could say I hadn’t had the Home Depot two-course dinner a few times, but I can’t.

“It’s too beautiful to go into that windowless basement,” says my girlfriend, who doesn’t like to go to the gym when it’s nice out. But how else can I burn off that hardware store candy bar/polish sausage combo or the huge bag of trail mix I told myself was healthier?

The drive through at Checkers is the only 24-hour fast food in my neighborhood. Once upon a time, a special sign stood in their drive through aisle advertising a beverage sale — for 99 cents one could choose either a 32-ounce orange pop or an 8-ounce bottle of Dasani water.

I’m not exactly privy to the secrets of pop manufacturing but doesn’t there have to be at least 8 ounces of water in a 32-ounce pop? Or didn’t they at least use 8 ounces of water to grow the oranges in it? Just kidding — I doubt any actual fruit was harmed in the making this Fanta. Still, it leaves us to wonder how that price structure is actually feasible.

“The real problem is corn subsidies; it’s a corn-spiracy,” I think as I pull out of the Checkers on to Joseph Campau. The burger is already unwrapped, and the fries are already half gone. It’s 3 a.m.

Only subsidies could make 32 ounces of corn-sweetened pop cheaper than 8 ounces of water. Growing huge fields of corn for cash subsidies makes kale, spinach and tomatoes more expensive because there’s less room for vegetables to grow.

Subsidized corn is the cheapest thing to feed beef cows, but they can’t digest it. So they get sick, and we pump them full of antibiotics. And the more antibiotics we take in secondhand (i.e. through a Checker’s burger), the more resistant human diseases are to antibiotics. And we get sicker.

Subsidized corn is the reason why Cheetos and the ubiquitous one-dollar-pack-of-creme-filled-sandwich-cookies are cheaper than kale, spinach, tomatoes, and a host of other fruits and veggies. In these times of economic hardship with a growing wealth gap, price disparities like this inevitably lead directly to diabetes, heart disease and cancer.

We gotta find a way for Congress to end these subsidies. A gentle food coma brought me some late night confidence that I could be the change I wished to see. I decided I would write a letter to my congressperson.

Of course, I procrastinated; as you can imagine, I didn’t feel well the next morning. Soon after, however, President Obama signed the “Monsanto Protection Act.” I realized this guy isn’t ready to change anything.

Monsanto has a lot of skin in the corn subsidy game. I don’t want to sound like a conspiracy theorist, but it seems useless to fight corn subsidies when Monsanto’s in the ring. So what do I do now?

Well, I can do what Gandhi did. I can do what the original “tea partiers” did. I can boycott. I can stop buying junk food or any food that doesn’t actually nourish me. I can stop eating for recreation.

Just think of the cycle. Eating big meals. Snacking all day. Then the fourth meal. Maybe a couple hundred extra calories for the day in a couple beers.

I lie in bed and read or look at pictures on Instagram of parties I didn’t go to the night before. I sit at the table and write a few hours a day. I sit on my butt driving to the store or to the school or to a restaurant.

And then when that day of least possible physical exertion ends, I cap it off by laying in bed — this time watching movies I don’t care enough to stay awake and scrolling through Instagrams to see what’s happening at the parties I’m not attending.

So, not only am I over consuming, I’m not even using energy. The average consumption of calories per capita per day in the United States is the highest in the world: 3,770.  Experts recommend a normal adult woman should consume 2,200 per day and men should consume 2,700 a day (average person then is 2,450). That means that as a nation, we consume 1,320 more calories a day per person than we should.

Nine countries in the world on average consume less than 2,000 calories a day per person: Eritrea, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Burundi, Haiti, Comoros, Zambia, Ethiopia, Angola and Central Africa.

If every American were to consume only 2,450 calories a day, and then could safely get the excess food calories to those countries, not only would it bump all those countries’ calorie consumption up to 2,450, but there would be food left over to feed 133,055,450 more people. The earth has the power to feed all the people living on the planet. But is that a good enough reason to give up my hardware store Nutrageous bar?

If we gave up our eat-for-fun lifestyles, we could have green-spaces where now stand rooms full of treadmills. There would be a lot less sewage and a lot more clean water. Less hospitals and dialysis clinics. More disposable income. Less plastic candy bar wrappers, plastic pop bottles and plastic to-go bags all mean fewer landfills, less pollution and more oil in the ground for the future.

And remember, it’s a lot easier to grow spinach in your yard than a Snickers bar, so eating healthy and moderately helps drives economic gravity out of the conglomerates and into your local economy.

If I want to change the world, I have to change myself — my eating habits before I worry about what Monsanto does. And although I know it will be hard, I believe that I can learn to live for fun and eat to live rather than live to eat.



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