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We Are All Children of the Corn

The drought continues around here.  Officially, a corn crop loss of around 10% was being chatted up a week ago.  That's total bunk.  I'm hearing upwards of 50% from most farmers, with some concerned the entire crop will be lost.  Corn has a very small pollination window.  It's rapidly closing.  There may soon by acres and acres of earless stalks.

The commodities market has already seen a 30% price increase.  Food and fuel prices will soon follow.

Corn is a terribly inefficient crop.  Its water needs are high in proportion to the amount of grain it produces.  It sucks as a "renewable" energy source, because it needs a high amount of fossil fuels to grow and process.  It sucks worse as an "environmentally friendly" source, because of its need for chemical fertilizers, pesticides, and fungicides.  The amount of land given over to corn productions have impacted local weather patterns in much the same ways as cities.  So while it might sound cool to say we can make plastic from a "green" source, understand that fossil fuels are needed to perform all stages of agriculture, and are used to produce all the "-icides" that eventually end up in the water supply.

In our food system, corn dominates.  If you eat industrially raised meats, you eat corn.  If you eat premade foods, you eat corn.  If you eat eggs, you eat corn.  Sodas?  Corn.  Farm-raised salmon?  Corn.  Cottage cheese?  Corn.  Ice cream?  You get the idea.  Corn is, in my researched opinion, a primary cause behind the rise in Type II diabetes, neurological disorders, poor LDL levels, allergic reactions, and endocrine disorders.  Backing up that opinion would be a whole 'nother post that would likely bore everyone.

Many of these costs are hidden in other places, but farm subsidies are the most direct example.  Most years, we consumers pay less for corn than corn costs to grow.  That's why it's so pervasive, like He Who Walks Behind the Rows.

My point in relating all of that is this: If you've been looking for a good time and reason to change eating habits, now is a good time.  If you want corn, eat it when it still looks like corn.  Otherwise, find places to remove it from your diet.  If dry cornfields are going to be the new normal, it will make an increasing amount of financial sense to make the change.  If you're looking to have happy health, it's made sense for a long time.

Comments

( 6 comments — Leave a comment )
queenoftheskies
Jul. 10th, 2012 03:16 pm (UTC)
I watch out for corn, itself, but I'd never thought about the rest. I'll definitely give it some thought now.
blairmacg
Jul. 10th, 2012 05:14 pm (UTC)
It's almost impossible to avoid all corn, and still engage in modern life. I strive for an 80/20. I eat as well as I possibly can 80% of the time so I can not worry about the other 20%.

Taking out processed foods--anything that doesn't come out of the grocery bag looking as it does in nature--reduces corn (and soy) consumption right away. The next step is to change over to non-corn-fed sources, starting with the most fatty foods. Non-corn-raised eggs, forex, make a bigger difference than non-corn chicken breast.
thanate
Jul. 10th, 2012 04:52 pm (UTC)
Are there good ways to get dairy & eggs that don't involve corn-fed animals? I was thinking about this recently in terms of trying not to support Monsanto, which is probably a pretty much hopeless cause unless I'm interested in going all-organic, but if you have suggestions for partial solutions/substitutions, that would be a good place to start.
blairmacg
Jul. 10th, 2012 05:24 pm (UTC)
Free-range eggs are the best option you'll find in the grocery store. Other names you might see them under are pasture-raised or farm raised.

Chickens are omnivores, and laying eggs requires energy that is best provided by grains, so some corn is just fine. It's keeping those grains within a well-rounded diet that makes the difference (and makes the eggs healthier for us to eat!). It's why many folks are raising their own backyard chickens.

I'm not much of an egg-eater, but the eggs I do purchase are from a local farmer. The yolks are an incredible golden orange.

For dairy, it's almost impossible to avoid corn-fed animals without going organic. Start with butter, as it's the highest fat concentration, then move on to cheeses and milk.

And yes, avoiding Monsanto is incredibly difficult. Learning about them is one of the factors motivating me to grow my own garden and learn how to save my own seed.

safewrite
Jul. 11th, 2012 09:23 pm (UTC)
Yes to everything you said. I am so glad I friend-ed you.

Aren't fresh eggs great? We get our eggs from a neighbor who has chickens, and plan on getting out own soon.

I just had a 28--year-old over for canning lessons. I also taught her how to cook somethings from scratch. We cook from scratch in this family, with as few processed ingredients as possible and a large garden, bulk grains and such. I firmly believe the days of factory farms are coming to a close, as they are all petrochemical-based and will become more and more expensive as these chemicals get more expensive.

The problem with buying organic things is the expense, so we grow our own or know people who do. Three of our neighbors have goats so we might have a nice local place for organic milk soon. If only every family would try to raise their own produce and eggs.

Other than that, bulk seems to be the way to go. Our grains of choice are barley and oats (I just made another batch of almond granola with local honey and we are having a beef barley stew tonight). We have some bulk red hard wheat to use up and then we are going try millet. Corn is not something I keep on hand, except cornstarch as a thickener, because diabetes runs in my family and I suspect what you do, especially about corn syrup. But I'm (sorta) happy for my farming neighbors' wallets in that South Carolina corn did well this year.
blairmacg
Jul. 12th, 2012 03:49 am (UTC)
"Yes to everything you said. I am so glad I friend-ed you.

Ditto. :)"

"I firmly believe the days of factory farms are coming to a close, as they are all petrochemical-based and will become more and more expensive as these chemicals get more expensive."

Yep. (There is already research being done on the use of essential oils in place of some herbicides, but those come with their own risks as well.) But the biggest obstacle to change will likely be the distribution system, and the biggest fallout will be the financial burden on the consumer. Organics are indeed expensive, but those prices are an accurate reflection of food's true cost when raised by a third party.

"If only every family would try to raise their own produce and eggs."

I go back and forth on that. On one hand, I love the idea of urban and community gardens. On the other hand, I know those soils are the ones most likely to be contaminated with lead and arsenic.

So glad you've been able to share the cooking and preserving lessons! Just recently, I had to explain to a young mother that there really wasn't a "recipe" for steamed vegetables. Teaching some to boil water isn't hyperbole.

"Corn is not something I keep on hand, except cornstarch as a thickener, because diabetes runs in my family and I suspect what you do, especially about corn syrup."

IMO, it's as much about the saturated fats corn puts in our meats. Meats raised on their natural diet (as in, cows allowed to graze) have omega-3 fats instead, and it's those fats that support cell membrane fluidity. Cell membranes that lack that quality are insulin resistant. Thus, the more industrially raised meats we eat, the more likely we are to develop Type II diabetes (among other things...).
( 6 comments — Leave a comment )

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