Mission Tortilla Strips

overall rating:

0.3

planets

Gracie Strobel
2/20/2022
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This week, I stopped by Target and, without much thought, bought a bag of tortilla chips along with what I needed. It’s a cheap and easy selection for anyone to make. As a consumer, I had little choice in what I was buying, as the shelves had been stripped clean of almost all chips, being directly off campus and preceding Superbowl Sunday. Either way, I didn’t have much concern for what was in what I was buying. Carelessness is my most significant issue in buying products that are not sustainable. Though marketed as having “4 Simple Ingredients,” further research would show the information on these chips is oversimplified, lacking most resources to learn more about what you’re consuming. Would I buy these tortilla strips again out of convenience? No.

What it's made of:

0.2

The back of the packaging includes a checklist to entice buyers: 4 simple ingredients, made with sea salt, no artificial colors or flavors, no preservatives. First, the ingredients are corn masa flour, water, vegetable oil (cottonseed, corn, and/or sunflower), and sea salt. This seems simple enough, but it is concerning to me that you don’t really know which type of vegetable oil is going to be used in your chips. Additionally, corn has very high yield in global farming; however, there are many challenges involved with corn farming: extensive usage of nitrogen-based fertilizers, high water usage, and uncontrolled runoff. Corn is made into masa flour through a traditional Mexican method called nixtamalization. To break down the raw corn kernels, they are boiled and soaked in an alkaline mixture of water and lime juice. Since corn lacks gluten, this process helps make the corn stickier in order to form a moldable dough later on. The process of nixtamalizing corn for masa flour has extensive water usage, both in the extended soaking of the corn and washing off the skins of the corn kernels. The rest of the checklist items could only be confirmed by the short ingredients list lacking artificial dyes and preservatives. However, I was briefly pleased to see that Mission also provided a QR code on the back of the bag to get more information about the product’s ingredients. When I scanned the code, all that came up was a large red warning declaring “Bioengineered Food Information Disclosure'' with nothing else included on the page. Additionally, there is no accessible information about where the ingredients are grown and who is responsible for farming. Rather than giving this information, Mission Foods deflects displaying where products are grown by showing where sales have expanded globally between its founding in 1949 and its extension of business across the US, South America, Asia, Europe, and Oceania. Because they at least have a simple list of ingredients, but offer virtually no other information, I give Mission tortilla strips a 0.2 for what it is made of.

How it's made:

0.2

There is no information provided of where the products for Mission are grown or how their products are manufactured. Though Mission does not detail the processes of how their tortillas and tortilla chips are made, their “Mission Green” program has set company goals for sustainability in production. Their goals over 5 years are listed as having a 20% increase in use of renewable energy, reducing emissions by 10%, and recycling 50% of waste; however, we don’t know when Mission Green started, when these 5-year goals began, and how close they are to completing these goals. Though the company has multiple sites of production, their website notes only the Panorama City plant has LEED Gold Certification. Additionally, Mission’s sustainability page is full of greenwashing, making vague comments about “complying with applicable regulations and standards to which we subscribe” or “conserving our natural resources.” They offer some statistics about waste and energy reduction since 2009, which initially seems impressive until you realize there is no context with how these statistics compare to their daily resource use. Outside Mission’s website, no information is available for their supposedly “award-winning” Mission Green initiative. I’ll give Mission a 0.2 for at least having a sustainability department and displaying some changes, but I think it is more for their company image than actual care for the planet.

Who makes it:

0.5

Mission offers little information on who grows and makes their products. However, Mission Foods and their parent company, GRUMA, have both advertised statements that show their compliance with laws against slavery and human trafficking. Mission follows the California Transparency in Supply Chains Act of 2010 (SB 657) which requires companies to make efforts to work with suppliers with high ethical standards that don’t participate in exploitative activities. They verify their products, promising audits for food safety that discover and address illegal actions, but there is still a lack of transparency in verification of ethical standards in third-party companies they work with. The global supply chain, GRUMA has also published they are taking a zero tolerance approach to slavery and human trafficking through the 2015 Modern Slavery Act. Overall, Mission is still going below the bare minimum of necessities for those they employ, so they get a 0.5. They are tackling human trafficking and slavery in their supply chains as they expand across the globe, but only over the last decade and still don’t involve every aspect of business in this review. There is still no information about the farmers and factory employees.