USA Today reported late last week one of the most frightening new stories in our brave new era of industrial food. No, it’s not about Monsanto crushing independent farmers under their big corporate thumb. No, it’s not about Frankenstein-like hamburgers assembled from numerous cows from around the world. It’s the new $2 Taco Bell combo meal.

Two bucks, which is “a penny more than an iTunes video download,” USA Today suggests helpfully, for those who don’t know what $2 is, gets you a taco or burrito, a medium soft drink, and a bag of Doritos. True, a certain amount of creativity is required when it comes to interpreting a bag of Doritos as a “side dish,” but there you have it: a “main dish,” a beverage, and some other piece of food. Technically a meal, and all for a penny more than $1.99.

And while it’s disappointing that the original plan to include a foam-based amuse-bouche course and a palate-cleansing yuzu sorbet had to fall by the wayside to keep costs low, it’s hard not to be impressed by the sheer efficiency of delivering a meal’s worth of mostly empty calories for such a small amount of money. You could do some kind of beans and rice + glass of water + roasted turkey at home for a similarly low amount of money and a better health impact, but let’s be honest: That’s a total pain in the butt compared with making a run for the border.

Image source: Flickr member compujeramey under Creative Commons

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