Our VoiceHealth & Environment

Discerning between cheap and inexpensive food

Garat Ibrahim • Nov 26, 2010

Over the past few years I have turned a critical eye on American agribusiness and the corporate food industry. Giant companies increasingly turn profits by cheapening the nutritional value of food and selling it inexpensively. High fructose corn syrup and sodium are major contributors to this process whether they appear in Big Macs or turkey sandwiches or vegetable broths.

It is one thing to eat these foods on occasion as a choice, but for folks using the SNAP CARD or as it was formerly known, EBT, this is the only option. Is it any wonder that diet related illnesses like obesity; hypertension and diabetes are epidemic, especially among poor people? What are the long term consequences of eating this way?

Giant food companies, especially meat-packing plants, are far more interested in marketing their products than educating consumers about nutritional content. These companies’ methods of advertising and packaging have mastered the art of seduction, and even contributed to widespread misperceptions about fat, trans fats, cholesterol and calories. Indeed, knowledge is power. But when one’s stomach is growling, how much time and energy do you really have to learn the facts about food content and detect nutritional scam posing as bargains?

I noticed a great deal of outrage and judgment directed at people who use food stamps. I have noticed the same crictism of government subsidies of agribusiness and the corporate food industry. Surely, these hidden subsidies deserve critical attention and should comprise part of the larger set of arguments around poverty and food justice.

When it comes to food, is there no moral imperative to produce healthy desirable foods that low income, food-stamp recipients can afford? Must quality food always cost more?

The answers to these questions will inform Americans about the difference between cheap and inexpensive food.

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