Sharon Lin, a student of Michael Ferraro at William R. Satz School in Holmdel, New Jersey, read and responded to the YES! Magazine article "A Month Without Monsanto," by April Dávila, a story about the potential health effects of genetically modified foods, and her need to learn where her food came from. She is our middle school winner for the Spring 2013 writing competition.
Writing prompt: April Dávila discovered that around 70 percent of processed foods on American supermarket shelves contain genetically modified organisms (GMOs). Does this concern you? What matters most to you about the food you eat?
After reading the YES! Magazine story, “A Month without Monsanto” by April Dávila, I began to notice that there is a plethora of secrets surrounding the foods around me. Dávila discovered that almost 70 percent of the foods on grocery store shelves are made with genetically modified organisms, whether it’s corn or some other by-product of genetic engineering. This fact, though not totally shocking, is appalling to me. Has our nation declined to the point where we cannot even supply ourselves with real food, subjecting ourselves to the whims of the genetically modified foodstuff that has practically been proven to have adverse effects on the human body?
In an article April had read in 2009, scientists performed experiments on rats, feeding them genetically modified (GM) corn and measuring their physical wellness. The study pointed towards kidney and liver damage—certainly effects that would be frowned upon by the public. Yet, even while we point fingers at others for consuming such lethal foods, why is it that nearly every American household has at least one box of cereal in their pantries? Kellogg’s and General Mills admit they use GM corn to produce their breakfast cereals and other foods; in fact, the majority of American name brands use GM produce as ingredients because they are the cheapest to purchase in bulk.
I believe that you are what you eat. If you feed your body chemically enhanced food that has the potential to harm you simply because it might be cheaper or more convenient than seeking out organic, wholesome foods, then you are cheating yourself out of a healthy lifestyle. Inspired by April’s journey to live for a month without any Monsanto-produced foods, I adopted my own strict diet regimen. Mine, similar to hers, was organic vegan. I began by making weekly visits to my local farmer’s market to seek out produce that I could be sure was grown without chemical enhancers or GM seeds. Additionally, I supplemented my diet with beans, nuts, and other healthy and organic foods. Although the change was difficult and tiresome at times, I loved how I felt about myself.
Apart from the new energy coursing through my veins, I felt a surge of self-confidence, knowing that I was able to help the world in a small way. Organizations like Monsanto are not doing anyone a favor by producing GM foods when the entire field of genetic engineering is still in its infancy. Perhaps in the future, when there has been more conclusive research performed regarding the effects of GM foods, we might be safe to consume such large quantities of modified produce. In the meantime, however, it is best to purchase locally grown and raised meats and vegetables. Not only will you help local farmers, but you will also contribute to a healthier earth and a healthier you.
Though I can understand that the issues surrounding the production of GM corn and other products might be subjective, I still believe that when the choice is given, the quality of food should be given priority over its quantity. Feeding throngs of people off cheap food is not necessarily a bad thing, but, to me, it is more satisfying to have a smaller portion of food that you know is good than large supplies of food that could harm you. You are what you eat, and, as April Dávila discovered, the foods that go into your body play a huge role in how you will feel in the future. Would you rather succumb to the consequences of ingesting cheap, tinkered food, or take charge of your life for a happier, healthier tomorrow?