J500 Media and the Environment


When it comes to corn, I’m all ears. by Kelly
March 5, 2010, 10:01 am
Filed under: J500 Week 7, Society + Media | Tags: , , ,

I love corn. If you tell me we’re having corn for dinner, I’ll look at you with wide, excited eyes, clap my hands and proclaim, “I LOVE corn!” That reaction is involuntary and I really can’t control it.

Most people would react this way to say, chocolate cake. Not me. I react that way to corn. And why not? It tastes like summer and is the color of sunshine.

flickr.com

However, crazy corn love aside, I had no idea I was eating so much of it.  After a little Google searching, it turns out that corn is in more of my daily diet than I realized.  The instant coffee and frozen waffles with syrup I had for breakfast? The peanut butter and jelly sandwich on wheat bread with potato chips and Coke that I had for lunch? The gum I chewed afterward? The grilled chicken caesar salad I had for dinner? My toothpaste?

Corn is in all of it. Sometimes it’s a sweetener, sometimes it’s a thickening agent, or it may be the feed used to fatten livestock.  Considering the sum of its uses, we end up eating a lot of corn.  And it doesn’t stop there. We’re wearing corn, writing on corn, and we can even put corn in our cars.

To some, it may sound resourceful to use one crop for so many things. I think it’s wasteful and unnatural. We’re planting acres upon acres of corn fields so we can have  sweeter food,  fatter cows, thicker soups, and cardboard.

Don’t get tricked into applauding the diversity of uses as innovation. In order to produce so much corn,  farmers worldwide have turned to the unstable practice of monoculture farming, which is the opposite of diversity. This method of farming allows a farmer to produce a lot of one type of crop, but it depletes the soil and destroys ecosystem diversity in the process.

We’re being thrown precariously off balance by little, unassuming ears of corn. We’re consuming thousands gallons of artificial sweetener at the cost of tons upon tons of soil erosion. We’re fattening cattle with food they aren’t designed to eat, which results in sick cows and an increased likelihood of  sick people. We’re plowing under forests to plant corn.

I hate to be concerned about corn, but I am. Food should be respected as food and modern agriculture is producing more than dinner. I hate that we’re feeding livestock food they shouldn’t be eating just because it’s cheaper. Furthermore, there are too many hungry people in the world for there to be corn in my toothpaste.

When it comes to corn, we have too much of a good thing.  I may love corn, but not at the expense of sick animals and exhausted farmland.

K. Cochran

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6 Comments so far
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Yes there is a lot of corn raised in America, but there is more wheat and rice raised for food, than corn. Growing corn year after year doesn’t happen that much. Here in Minnesota we mostly use a corn soybean rotation, one year corn, soybeans the next. Areas with livestock will mix in alfalfa and oats or barley.
There are 5 types of corn, not all of them are raised in the U.S. Dent corn is raised for animal feed and industrial use. Sweet corn for human consumption. Pop corn for snacking. Flint corn for tortillas. Pod corn is raised in central America for some purpose I’m not sure of. So even in corn country it’s far from a monoculture.
In the past 50 years much of our marginal land has been taken out of production for wildlife areas which adds to the diversity.
In drier areas of the south and the african continent they are more likely to plant milo, millet or sorghum than corn. Wet areas prefer rice. Places where farmers cannot or should not plow the grass is left for pasture land. Don’t forget about the thousands of acres of apples, oranges, grapes, tomatoes, potatoes and other fruits and veggies. No, we are far from a monoculture out here in farm country. Come out and see for yourself.

Comment by Michael

Kelly,
I just checked on some of the links in your blog and I’m distressed. As a former livestock producer, there are claims in your link to cows that are far from factual, and are criminal if they do happen. Please check your sources.
The monoculture link forgets one major reason for our shift to fewer crops. We no longer have to feed the horses and bullocks that were once the power of agriculture. We have been able to shift to the growing of crops for human use. So it is no wonder that we are also looking to agriculture for the transportation fuels of the future.
The worlds biggest problem now is not how our food is raised, but how we will feed an ever expanding human population. With the worlds population set to double in the next 50 years we need new and innovative ways to feed the world. I fear our world is going to less diversity rather than more, and mankind, and how to feed all of those people, is the overwhelming factor in it.

Comment by Michael

Kelly,

I really liked your post, but am now totally p.o.-ed at the man-who-has-no-idea-what-he’s-talking-about’s comments. He clearly doesn’t understand what you mean when you are talking about monoculture. Just because we have oranges, apples, corn, wheat, and lots of other crops that we only grow a few varieties of doesn’t mean we don’t have a monoculture. It is a problem, from a food security standpoint in the very least, that we no longer have the dozens of varieties of oranges and corn and wheat, etc. But of course you know that. He said he was a livestock producer so he obviously has other interests. I agree that a lot of what goes on in our food system, particularly agriculture, should be criminal… but it’s not. I have seen the practices your links mention in real-life and know people involved with them. And I don’t think most people would are to doubt the credibility of Berkley.
Here is a link to a post he posted recently that explains why he has his “views.” http://minnesotafarm.wordpress.com/2010/03/03/safe-food/
I don’t really have a question for you about your post… I’m just interested in seeing how you respond to the other guy. -Kristina B.

Comment by kristinabev

Thank you Kristina. I’ve written about what I’ve read and understand about the state of modern agriculture and I would never use a questionable source. I’ll certainly do some research into Michael’s concerns and post my findings here.

K.Cochran

Comment by Kelly

Monoculture is the raising of only one crop and not using the land for any other purpose. Your yard is a monoculture. The grass lands of the west are a monoculture. A rice paddy is monoculture. A vineyard is monoculture. My fields, as are so many others in farm country, are at least two cropped.
I have challenged the ideas of teachers. They are human, sometimes they are wrong. Even at Berkley.

Comment by Michael

Ah yes, you’ve written what you’ve read, but what have you yourself lived.
A friend of mine recently had a conversation with a college professor who claimed that all erosion was caused by farmers. Completely forgotten were such things as the erosion that caused the Grand Canyon. Unfortunately some of our teachers are only teaching what they have read, and not even the first writer had ever found out if what he wrote was true.
I am an environmentalist, but I have to admit that the environmental movement, based on Rachel Carson’s “Silent Spring” is based on a lie. DDT did not, and never has caused egg shell thinning. The experiment that caused the egg shell thinning also reduced calcium levels in the food. Calcium needed to produce egg shells. There have been many tests proving my statement, no one remembers them.
Please be a skeptic. Check up on your facts. Look for dissenting opinion. You may be surprised at what really is the truth,

Comment by Michael




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