Wednesday, April 23, 2008

King Corn

I just watched a really interesting documentary on the history of the corn industry. Two recent college grads decided to plant one acre of corn in the small Iowa town where their great grandfathers had farmed, and then see what happened to it once it entered the system. I would love to thoroughly comment on all the interesting aspects of the movie, but I am going out of town with Ellie and my mom tomorrow for four days. And, we are moving in 2 weeks. Yikes! Anyhoo, I will bullet some of the most interesting points in the documentary.

In the 1970s, the new agricultural secretary, Earl Butz, ended the practice of farmers getting paid to NOT produce anything. He wanted farmers to produce as much as possible.

Today, we spend on average 16% of our income on food.

Our great grandparents spent twice that.

Cattle used to graze on grass for 2 or 3 years to come up to market weight (that is when they are good to eat!)

Cattle in modern day "confinement" feed lots are fed up to 90% grain and not allowed to move around so that they gain weight faster (about 160 days to market).

It kills cows to eat this much corn. It gives them acidosis and ulcers and to combat this, they are fed low grade amounts of antibiotics constantly.

Cattle use 70% of the produced antibiotics.

Grain lots produce obese cattle with high amounts of fat tissue. "Fat disguised as meat."

Traditional grass fed beef is lean meat. A grass fed t-bone steak contains 2 g of saturated fat vs. 9 g in a grain fed cow.

The corn raised in Iowa is not raised for human consumption and has little nutritional value. It is genetically modified to have a high yield and starch level. The new strain of corn was created to withstand being planted very close together.

Our ancestors used to yield 40 bushels of corn on the same land that can now produce 200 bushels.

By the late 80s high fructose corn syrup commanded 1/2 of the sweetener market. Our consumption of table sugar has been taken over by HFCS.

70% of HFCS produced is used to make soda.

HFCS causes metabolic harm to humans and increases the risk of type 2 diabetes.

1 soda a day doubles the risk of diabetes.

Eastern Colorado used to be all grazing land for cattle. It is now corn fields and feed lots.

Has an overabundance and surplus of corn produced too much? Is this non-food the raw material for an unhealthy society? Very interesting questions.


Kristen Borland said...

yikes! this makes me cringe!! sounds like a good documentary.