Ever wondered why tortillas, burritos, and tacos are so cheap in the U.S.? It's because one of their main ingredients, corn, is subsidized by the government. Subsidized? What does that mean? It means that the government provides financial aid to industry, farmers, or consumers, in order to make low-cost food available to Americans. So, how does this impact the corn industry? To answer this question, let's look at how corn became subsidized in the first place.

The History Of Corn

Fall, Indian corn, corn
Kelsey Ragnini

We should go back in time to answer the question of why corn became subsidized by the government. Like any other crop, corn has good years and bad years. The early 1800s brought a boom for U.S. corn farmers as they moved West for farmland. But this over-planting of land set the stage for the financial problem that came in the 1930s. The excess drove the price of corn so low that it was basically worthless, and the Great Depression and the Dust Bowl only made the situation worse. This is when the federal government decided to implement a subsidy on corn to stabilize the fluctuating prices.

How Does This Impact Us?

salsa, guacamole, corn, tortilla chips, sauce, chili, jalapeno, nachos, tomato, vegetable, salt
Sarina Jwo

We eat many variations of corn, such as corn tortilla chips, and so do farm animals. Corn can also be turned into corn flour, ethanol, high-fructose corn syrup, and even bio-based plastics, making it an important resource in our everyday lives. Let's take a look into the pros and cons of the corn subsidy. 

Pros Of Corn Subsidy

corn, pasture, cereal, vegetable, straw, maize, hazelnut
Jenny Georgieva

1. It reduces the need to rely on other countries for corn production. 

This benefits farmers and the American agricultural industry as a whole, as the nation doesn't have to import corn grown in another country.

2. It gives farmers access to consistent income.

Farmers can set aside their own income for their personal needs and use the government subsidies to take care of the farm.

3. It helps manage food supply.

Subsidies can be used by governments to ensure that a farm produces the right amount of crops or meat to serve the population.

Cons Of Corn Subsidy

cereal, corn, pasture, vegetable, popcorn, meat, hazelnut, maize
Kirby Barth

1. It damages the environment

Since the subsidy encourages farmers to grow just one crop (in this case, corn), crop rotation becomes more challenging. This ultimately results in soil depletion.

2. Eating too much corn can be fattening.

With corn subsidies, it has become easier and easier for consumers to buy corn products at a lower price. From chips to tortillas to corn syrup, almost every snack we love includes corn. Remember that corn contains omega-6 fatty acids, and too much of this can cause inflammation

So What?

Corn subsidies do reduce the price of the food we eat, allowing us to enjoy our favorite snacks–popcorn, chips, tortillas, and tacos–at a low price. Subsidies also help farmers and the economy. Still, just because corn is cheap, we shouldn't overindulge. It is important to make sure that Americans have the means to eat a healthy balanced diet and also think about the environment.

Meanwhile, here are some ways you can enjoy corn.

Cheddar Corn Grits

chicken, sauce
Meredith Simmons

Mexican Corn Salad

corn, vegetable, pasture, cereal, hazelnut, meat, sweet corn
Wallis Linker

Corn Tortilla Chips

corn, cornflakes, sweet, salt, chips, tortilla chips, cereal
Aakanksha Joshi