Curtis Ellis and Ian Cheney just graduated college and have recently heard that their generation is the first one in history to have a shorter life span than its predecessor. In the initial investigation to find the fatal source, they get their hair tested, hair being a constant recorder of all things consumed. Once established that corn was the main part of their being, they became curious as to why corn, a simple vegetable, would want to harm them. Now heading to Iowa the heart of the corn producing region, to grow and track what happens to corn.

They become aware of a shocking truth. The majority of corn grown within this country is inedible until processing; also, previously stripped of most of its nutrients, due to the genetic engineering that allows the corn in denser populations. Compared to a couple generations ago, farmers would marvel over 40 bushels an acre; today’s generation is procuring 180 bushels from that same acre, producing roughly 5 tons of food. The corn is then processed into animal feed, sweetener, and ethanol.

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With animal feed being made out of half the produced crop now fatting beef much faster than grass used too, but leading to a 700% increase in the saturated fat; as the corn feeds’ high acid content poisons the animal, only being able to survive about 6 months on the diet. About 20% of the remaining corn becomes a cheaply produced sweetener, 70% of it heading to soda factories and along with obesity, diabetes is now a bigger threat than ever. How could the government allow this to happen, poisoning ourselves as we go through the checkout line at the local supermarket.

In the last thirty years as the government has changed its position from limiting the production of certain crops like corn, to encouraging over production. Engineering lower prices and through them a decrease in the average amount of our budget that is devoted to food. This generation spends only about 17% of their budget on food, considerably less than any other generation in history. However, this cheap food has led to the most obese and diabetic-inclined generation ever; is having the low food cost worth the externalities that come along with the long term health care costs that come accompany this diet?

Not to mention, these procedures are destroying the small farmer, the only profit to be found comes from the government subsides, making it impossible for anyone but huge operations to survive. Is there a solution? Of course, is there a reasonable and plausible solution? Not in the near future. The kind of catastrophic event that would have an impact on this situation is unforeseeable. However, as information gets shared and people get educated they have a chance to fend for themselves in this battle for a healthy life.