Iowa currently imports 80% of its food.
– Michael Pollan
Read that again.
I don’t even know how to respond to that. Honestly, I feel pretty much nothing but embarrassment.
That’s a lie; I do know how to respond. I can choose to not buy products that are at the end of the corn pipeline.
No pop, no candy, no Sun Chips.
A few handy facts:
- Field corn is not sweet corn. Unlike its boil-able or grill-able relative (distant), field corn must be processed using hydrocarbon intensive factories and supply chains before it is fit for consumption. Read: gallons of gas.
- Field corn is only grown in such massive quantities because the government meagerly covers any losses farmers may incur (in the form of subsidies)
- Last year, 13.3 million acres of Iowa soil was planted with field corn out of Iowa’s total 36 million acres of area. That’s 37% of Iowa’s total area. (28% was planted with soybeans)
Wait, Why is Field Corn a Bad Thing?
In moderation — I suppose it’s not — but, let’s play pie chart:
So, 609 million bushels of corn are going to feed cattle, chickens, turkey, and pigs. All of those animals are not ones that would naturally eat corn as a major part of their diet, and they suffer for it. These animals are happily sold to you buy Hy-Vee, Fareway, and Dahl’s.
If you don’t care about that, just know that those pesticides and herbicides get concentrated in the animal along with the unhealthy fat that a diet of pure skittles would produce in you. Yum!
Gasahol! If this is what independence from foreign oil looks like, get me a turban. 1 billion bushels (billion) gets turned into ethanol, a gas guzzling processes in and of itself.
With the government heavily subsidizing corn production, and its obvious connection to ethanol fuel production, you have to wonder how serious our commitment to emission-less vehicles really is. If you’re not scared about emissions, just ask the people who live along the Missouri and Mississippi rivers how their spring went.
The 10% of production (240 million bushels) dedicated to human consumption seems like a pittance, doesn’t it? What makes it even worse is that it’s for garbage like Mountain Dew.
So, while on vacation in Okoboji, and having eaten my fill of Starbursts and Dr. Pepper (because I let up on my rules while being hosted, lest I come across as a total douche bag) I couldn’t help but remind my friends that we were all just eating the corn we could see out the back window of our lakeside villa.
That corn just happened to be harvested with a gas-powered combine, shipped in a gas-powered truck, processed in a gas-fired kettle, shipped to magical place where Dr. Pepper and Starbusts are made (I bet Indiana), More gas, more shipping, more packaging, and finally the gas it took us to go to Walmart and buy it.
Have a great summer!