Anyone watch the TV show The West Wing lately? Even if you hate it, you have to admit it's pretty good at touching on a wide range of real U.S. issues.
Last week's episode, King Corn, was about the ethanol hype and how the real facts aren't being communicated clearly to the public. Ethanol is an allegedly amazing fuel additive - derived from corn. Too bad the truth isn't so supportive.
Which relates perfectly to an enlightening talk given by Michael Pollan a few weeks ago.
2-second overview: Corn is the biggest cash crop and largest, single mono-culture, covering 80 million acres in the U.S. It's bought and sold cheap, and we give government subsidies to the largest producers.
What to do with all this dang corn? Sell it in its raw state (yes), process it into foods (yes), export it like crazy for cheap (yes), use it to feed animals, even animals that can't naturally digest it (yes), formulate food sweeteners, oils & thickeners a la high fructose syrup, corn oil & dextrose (yes), formulate fuel additives a la ethanol (yes).
Wouldn't it be nice to just diversify our crops instead of promoting overproduction, administering antibiotics to cattle for corn digestion, and spreading unhealthy sweeteners into almost all processed foods & drinks?
Ahhh, that would be lovely.
- Of 10,000 items in a typical grocery store, at least 2,500 use corn in some form during production or processing.
- Your bacon and egg breakfast, glass of milk at lunch, or hamburger for supper were all produced with US corn.
- Besides food for human and livestock consumption, corn is used in paint, paper products, cosmetics, tires, fuel, plastics, textiles, explosives, and wallboard – among other things.
- In the US, corn leads all other crops in value and volume of production – more than double that of any other crop.
Read more about:
Diversified growing vs subsidized agribusinesses
Michael Pollan's thoughts on corn
Ethanol in West Wing
And about high fructose syrup:
Its GMO-corn constituents
Fattening you up