Bigger Isn't Better in America

Write an essay inspired by mustard.


In an ideal world, mustard would come in whimsical glass containers with pictures of wholesome families on their labels. The words "all natural" or "organic" would adorn the jars. They would line the supermarket shelves next to matching bottles of relish and ketchup. No one would need to worry about the price, or healthfulness. In this world, when a family bought a giant container of mustard because of its low unit cost, the family wouldn't think about health issues, but this difference stems from a compromise of values. Americans are so used to ingesting chemicals and artificial flavors that one more variety does not even register on our radar. The prevalence of super-sized foods reflects a change in America's culture, and in the American Dream.

America has always been the land of the plentiful. Even my relatives in China know that. "Big city, big money, Big Mac," my six-year-old cousin once said to me in his broken English. I was startled by the profundity of his statement. The America that used to be known as the land of possibility has become far smaller in the 21st century, in the hands of several large corporations with widespread influence. America is large in the most profound sense...

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