My kids have been eating a lot of corn. They had it on the cob which was fine, but the next night that had it in the form of a cheeseburger with fries via corn-fed beef, high fructose corn syrup laden Shirley Temples, condiments and buns as well as frozen french fries fried in corn oil.
I’ve had corn on the brain ever since watching the documentary, King Corn. Co-producers Ian Cheney and Curt Ellis have a done a really great job at explaining corn’s role in our food chain in an informative yet entertaining way. After meeting at Yale and worrying about corn’s affect on our health, the duo moved to Green, Iowa to grow an acre of corn to see where it would end up.
It’s a fascinating look at agriculture in our country. I didn’t realize that farmers don’t make money from growing corn, they make money from the government subsidies that they receive from agreeing to grow corn. It keeps corn cheap and abundant which keeps our food costs low. Or course you and I pay for our food twice. Once when we buy it and a second time in the form of our tax dollars which seems odd to be paying for a crop that we have too much of, but hey, what do I know?
Apparently out of the 92 million acres of corn planted in this country each year, only about 235,000 acres are grown for humans to eat. The rest of our corn goes toward ethanol, high fructose corn syrup production and to feed livestock.
Ethanol I don’t know much about. High fructose corn syrup can be avoided – just read a label and don’t buy it, but the grain fed animals really bug me. Since you are what you eat, literally, do you really want to ingest an out of shape, overweight animal that’s suffering from cardiac disease with high triglycerides?
Personally I prefer to eat healthy animals. Similarly, I don’t eat produce that’s rotting, milk that has soured or fish that’s been sitting out on my counter for 10 days. Likewise, I don’t want to eat an animal that needs to be defibrillated to make it down to the slaughter house. To me this is no different than transplant surgeons saying no to a lung donated by a gal that died from emphysema or an eye donor with glaucoma or cataracts.
Since buying organic, grass fed animal proteins is expensive, I think it might be time to break down and find a local farmer, invest in a chest freezer and start buying meat in bulk. You too can find a pasture-based farmer in your area, by checking out Eat Wild’s informative web site that lists over 800 farms.
Keep in mind that grass-fed and grain-fed animals taste different, so you might want to experiment with organic meats before committing to an entire pig or a split-side of beef. In the meantime, check out the trailer for King Corn and put it in your Netflix queue.
Our kids are turning into children of the corn. If you’ve forgotten how that turned out, here’s a little reminder.