Put aside your purely sentimentalist views about corn, including your ideal Sunday dinner on the farm. Corn is in everything we eat…from meat to cereals to drinks to coffee, from breads to pasta, from the McDonald’s meal you grab in the drive-through to so-called “organic” eggs. In fact, in the average grocery store, of more than 45,000 “foods”, a quarter are comprised of some type of corn. The use of so much corn has driven up the amount of petroleum needed to transport it by millions of barrels per year.
Corn is not a bad plant, but it is indigestible in most forms you will find it in, unless it has been grown organically and soaked or sprouted – and most of the corn you will buy on the market is a far cry from this natural condition. Why then, is it being used in foods we eat, and why so pervasively? In Michael Pollan’s book, The Omnivore’s Dilemma, we are told in expert detail how the oil and corn industries together with the FDA are largely responsible for damage to the environment as well as many major health problems in modern society.
Each bushel of industrial corn grown, Pollan notes, uses the equivalent of up to a third of a gallon of oil. Some of the oil products evaporate and acidify rain; some seep into the water table; some wash into rivers, affecting drinking water and poisoning marine ecosystems. The industrial logic also means vast farms that grow only corn. When the price of corn drops, the solution, the farmer hopes, is to plant more corn for next year. The paradoxical result? While farmers earn less, there’s an over-supply of cheap corn, and that means finding ever more ways to use it up.
This disturbing truth supports the idea that we are a community of sick and starving people who do not receive adequate nutritional support to keep our bodies functioning properly and feeling well. Corn and other carbohydrate-based crops are processed beyond recognition to produce many of the foods we eat. We have completely lost touch with consuming whole, real foods that humans need to be healthy and are a junk-food, convenience-based nation.
What about chips, crackers, pasta, bagels, and most bread products on the market? You will read the labels and will be told by a good number of them that they are “whole grains”. A majority of these staple items contain processed, enriched flours and corn as primary ingredients. These products are not whole grains and they are not healthy to eat. Natural farming takes a back seat to factory and industrialized processes which destroy the integrity of whole foods that are a necessity to people and animals alike. Have we been lied to? You bet.
The FDA has approved the license to sell and consumption of all these foods that are killing us and causing an enormous rise in the cost of health care, oil, and many products that we use and depend on every day. Most significantly, our health conditions are in serious jeopardy with heart disease, high blood pressure, and cancer among the top five reasons for death – all greatly contributed to by the power of the FDA and these bloated industries’ abilities to affect the content of the food we eat.
Go to Amazon.com and read reviews on Michael Pollan’s book, see a short clip from Bill Maher’s show interviewing Pollan, and then decide for yourself whether or not you are ready for a change in lifestyle.
It is inconceivable that in a world where corn is so plentiful and readily available that it is not used more pervasively as an alternative fuel to oil. Unfortunately, there are politicians, special interest groups, and lobbyists working night and day to prevent this from occurring. Many people would have us believe that removing corn from the food supply would actually cause mass starvation and loss of industry jobs. How can this be true when the corn most people buy is not really food in the first place? Farmers could still continue to make a living growing corn for fuel alternatives just as they do now harvesting it for food.
Want to find out what most of the cattle in the United States eat on the feedlots in which they are raised?
For more information about corn as a viable and renewable source of fuel for our everyday lives, visit The New Farm and learn about how useful this crop can be.