Aramark should provide alternatives to genetically altered foods

You are what you eat. If you don’t know what you’re eating, how can you know what you are?

The UCA Environmental Alliance recently started a petition that would require Aramark to provide healthy eating options in The Christian cafeteria and food court on campus. The group claimed that all foods, including fruits and vegetables, currently being served contain genetically modified organisms (GMOs), rendering them unhealthy.

For food to be sold as cheaply as it is to Aramark and other food giants, it’s almost certain that GMOs are present. Students who rely on university meal plans at the Christian Cafeteria and the Student Center food court currently lack options to avoid eating these genetically modified foods. When food is sold at large quantities, companies must sacrifice either quality or profit, with quality taking the fall to maximize profit.

Food engineered in laboratories to contradict nature in the way it tastes, ages and grows should make us hesitate. The process of creating GMO foods teeters on a fine line between what is tolerable and what is considered unnatural. Students should be educated on what modifications have been made to their food and given a way of opting out when they feel uncomfortable.

GMOs are now present in 75 to 80 percent of conventional processed food in the U.S., according to a Whole Foods Market news release. I’m afraid to see what health problems will follow this generation of students if progressive steps are not taken for students. Our cafeteria primarily serves conventional foods and students needs to know what the genetic modifications entail.

We’re at a point where companies are injecting chemicals like monosodium glutamate, a chemical that has been demonstrated to cause neurological damage, into our meat for the sake of flavor enhancement. Imposing health risks on consumers in the sake of artificial flavoring is totally unethical and absolutely unacceptable.

Conventional foods have questionable chemicals in them and there is a total suppression of research on what said chemicals are doing to our bodies. Students have a right to know what is in their food and should have options to avoid being dosed with cocktails of experimental chemicals for the sake of corporate profit.

I feel the petition started by the Environmental Alliance has voiced important concerns about the food being served in meal plans that we, as a campus, cannot ignore. The only way we can truly be sure of what we’re eating is to investigate it ourselves. Aramark can’t be trusted to scrutinize its own food. The company has huge profit potential to tell you that GMO foods are necessary and safe for consumption. We have reached a time where UCA’s administration needs to seriously reevaluate the food situation on campus.

Aramark Senior Food Service Director Jim Nabors tried to dispute claims made by the Environmental Alliance petition last week in his interview with The Echo. In the interview, he admitted that he was unsure of what the term “genetically modified” means and said he “can’t imagine” that all of the food at UCA is unhealthy. His counter claims in defense of the food on campus represent an uneducated viewpoint.

However, we can’t blame Nabors for his ignorance. He represents the 52 percent of Americans who lack proper education about the food they’re ingesting.

His job isn’t focused on how healthy the food is on campus, but rather how healthy the company’s quarterly reports read. Capitalist privatization has turned our nation’s food industry into another winner-take-all business model.

The widespread corporate takeover of the food industry has found its way to UCA, feeding us unhealthy food at inflated prices.

I’m extremely disappointed that no one in our Student Government Association, housing or food services feels compelled to address the concerns being raised by Environmental Alliance. When students are worried about something as important as the healthiness of food on campus, it is the responsibility of the university to listen and investigate.

SGA in particular seems to be inappropriately focused on Greek Life instead of issues being raised by students. These groups should reconsider their attitudes in approaching the concerns being raised by this healthy food petition.

How have we let ignorance become so delicious?

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