Tuesday, October 14

Children of the Corn

Corn, the abundance or lack of it, is at the heart of the world's obesity problems. It's more pronounced in America, the land of McDonald's upsized fries and drinks, where 3 of 5 people are overweight. While lawsuits have been filed accusing fast foods that they haven't been informed that eating large servings will make them fat (duh, like they didn't know that), the same companies are making the rest of the world indulge in the surplus of corn.

Interesting article in the NY Times which traces America's health problems through its corn production. How in the 19th century the corn surplus made way for cheap moonshine and thus contributed to the alcoholism problem. Neat trivia: the ritual we know as the office coffee break started as a respite for farm hands from their daily grind. They would chug down pints of moonshine which had become cheap and affordable. When the Prohibition came, it was substituted by coffee. And now we have people downing designer coffee with lots of whipped cream and assortments of syrup.

After the Depression came ever increasing returns from the farm. The oversupply of corn can then be blamed after Nixon's time, when subsidies were given to farmers so they wouldn't have to sell their produce at a lower price. Farmers harvested more and more corn, which the government stored in their granaries, and they don't know what to do with it. So they had to "add value" to it by turning it into corn flakes, corn syrup, and fed it to cows and chickens so we had cheap corn-fed beef which they turned into burger patties which sold for $.99 in McDonalds, which in turn marketed it world wide and asked customers to "upsize" their drinks and double their burgers for an additional php5. So the usual 600 calorie meal of a burger, regular fries and drinks were bloated to a sky high 1,500 calories.

Then we wonder why we keep on getting fat. That's why McDonald's is evil and we shouldn't keep on upsizing those fries and drinks. All that because them imperialist farmers have to do something with all their surplus corn. Even if we get all high tech and postmodern* with our cell phones and wi-fi and friendster (hee!) we are all still bound to agriculture.

*In the critical lit theory class I sat in, there were arguments whether or not Pinas is a postmodern society. Kasi we're semipyudal, semikolonyal daw, and we never went from modern to industrial to post industrial and all that shit we learned from STS and Alvin Toffler so it's impossible that we jump straight to postmo. But then since Pinas is this weird place where we don't have linear history and a sense of a grand narrative, and we're really a Romantic (and rustic), where we're all stories happening at the same time, therefore we're postmo. Aak! Ang gulo noh? But yeah, anything can happen in Pinas.

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