Thursday, December 07, 2006

Beyond corn -- food for thought

Suddenly it seems as if everything I read or see has to do with food. It is more than recipes or how to grow veggies, but it has to do with the nature of what we eat.

I recently saw "The Future of Food." The Future of Food is an in-depth documentary about the engineered and genetically modified foods that have entered our food shelves. It was frightening to realize how big corporations (such as Monsanto) have genetically modified seeds so much that we are now unable to save seeds. We don't know the impact of these foods on the rest of our seeds.

See, once upon a time we would grow our food and collect the seeds to be grown the following year. Without those seeds we would only be able to grow food one time. We would have to purchase seeds every year. Well, now seeds are engineered so that we are unable to save the seeds. They are made to grow only once. This makes us dependent upon the corporations which developed the seeds. We would have to purchase the seeds every year to planted again.

This documentary covers other issues about the food infrastructure. The laws that cover corporations rather than the farmers. Those who have patents on genetically engineered seeds have more rights than those people whose land accidentally gets planted with those seeds (via wind or the like). It is shocking and disturbing.

With recommendations by Burdockboy and Tracey, I have started to read the Omnivore's Dilemma.

I am only a few pages into the book. It has already shocked me. I live near corn country. I live in corn country. I always wondered why this area grew so much corn. The pages that I have read answered my question. Corn is in everything. Everything. Corn is in the wax that covers our peppers. Corn is fed to the beef and chicken that we consume. Corn is in soda in the form of corn syrup. Corn is what we consume.

At the same time that I was reading these pages there was an article in the local paper about corn. The demand for corn has sky rocketed. This is because now corn will fuel more than our bodies--it will fuel our cars. Farmers are now deciding whether to sell their corn for ethanol production or food/livestock production. Corn sold for ethanol pays much better than the latter. What does this mean?

Farmers are deciding to sell their corn for ethanol (to fuel our cars). This means that there is less corn available for the food market as mentioned in the Omnivore's Dilemma. There is less corn available to feed livestock/soda/food mixes/boxed foods. Corn prices go up and everything else will have to go up.

I think that it is time for us to take control of our food. I am trying to eat food in closest to the form that it originally came from. I know I am doing well when my husband tells me that we have nothing in the house to eat and then I create a scrumptious meal (ingredients rather than a box). I am now buying heirloom seeds instead of GE seeds. I want to know where my food comes from and have as much control over it as possible. I want to eat food that does not travel 1500+ miles.

This time of year may be difficult to start thinking about eating locally (especially for those of us in the cold north). However, I challenge you to start thinking about it. I think we should wean ourselves from boxes of food and return to ingredients. That will make it easier to eat locally when the farmer's markets reopen in the spring.


Phelan said...

a link for you

The terminator seed is scary indeed.

Sara said...

The Future of Food just arrived in my mailbox today from Netflix. I'm excited to watch it now :)

M said...

Thank you for your post. It makes me feel better to know my husband isn't the only one who says there is nothing to eat. :) And to also know that I'm not the only one moving away from pre-packaged foods. A meal from scratch always tastes so much better as well.
I appreciate the reading and documentary suggestions. Have a nice weekend!

baloghblog said...

The Omnivore's Dilemma had a big effect on my wife and I. Here are a few of my thoughts on it.

I had been passing the book around to family and friends, but just recently got it back for a refresher (after eating fast food twice last week. uggh.) Don't worry, I'll be back on the wagon this weekend.

Katie said...

I need to read that book - thanks for the review. I've just started reading "Seeds of Destruction" all about GMOs - it's a must read for anyone interested in GE seeds and the like.

Chelee said...

Could you post your favorite seed catalogues. I'm starting to dream of spring already...

Emme said...

sure - I love (heirloom seeds)
I also recently discovered

Kim in IN said...

Hi emme,
I too am reading The Omnivores Dilemma and am shocked. We are, as Michael Pollen puts it"processed corn walking".
I borrowed the book from our library. I think it is a must have.
I find myself wanting to make notes and underline everything.
Kim in IN.

tracey said...

I like your challenge to eat locally and use ingredients. Over the last two years I have found that there is more reward and fulfillment in using ingredients to prepare food - and it tastes so much better. But I agree, finding locally produced food is challenging in the north. But there are ways around the situation if you think creatively.

BurdockBoy said...

There is actually a 3 day discussion group here on the Omnivore's Dilemma. I'm going again on Monday. This Book has really gotten people talking. I'm glad you're reading it.

Because I had a couple bloggers recommend the book "Hungry Planet" I just picked it up from the library. Another great food related book. It has case studies with wonderful pictures of what people eat for a week in countries throughout the world. It's amazing to see how globalization is affecting the whole world as well as how food is so improportianately (is that a word) divided.

Beo said...

I loved O. Dilemna-and have loaned it out to several friends with an almost religious fervor-I know you will love it. My single biggest take away was that he clued me in to Joel Salatin. The more I research him and his farm the more I find to love.

My only criticism of Pollan is that he delt Whole Foods a raw deal. Here in WI, our Madison Whole Foods ROCKS-and at least right now has better selections of local foods than the winter farmer's market. They make cooking simple, natural meals for your family an accesible act for the average (if wealthier) American.

baloghblog said...

I have to second, I ordered my heirlooms from them last year, they came quickly, and grew abundantly.

fatguyonalittlebike said...

I have found the book "The way we eat: why our food choices matter" to be quite the eye opener as well.

It graphically details the factory farming system. I knew some of what they said, but not enough apparantly.

And they do a great job of detailing conventional farming with organic with sustainable farming and work it all together.

It's really great.

Sally Parrott Ashbrook said...

Hungry Planet is a great book.

Emme, I think you will enjoy this blog:

Michael said...

thought I would poke my nose in again. You might block me for my wind-bag post, but here goes anyway.

wife and I read a book back in 76 or so called the "sugar blues". We swore off anything that contained refined sugar for about 4 years.
That was the healthiest time of my life.
Since then have had 4 kids and numerous job changes, am trying to get off the sugar roller-coaster but not having much luck.
We did the homemade food stuff (made bread, yogurt, had a garden, etc.) Seems like no time now.
Anyway, wanted to throw a couple of observations:
1. I worked a job installing explosion suppression equipment in high-speed dust collectors (essential for processing corn starch wonder if you knew that corn starch dust can be explosive?). You know that jello instant pudding you can make from cold milk? It had to be processed using a chemical that required evacuating the plant when the tank car rolled in! I got some of the processed starch on my work boots and picked up about 50 pounds (no exaggeration) of gravel from the parking lot getting to my car, the stuff was stickier than wall-paper paste. I bet you could have made pretty good road patch with it! Food (questionable use of the word) made from processed corn products inevitable has some residue of of trace gunk that it is used to permit it to be "masqueraded" as some other type of substance. in general, store bought food is designed to be sweet, starchy, and full of fat to cause the user to become addicted (sound like cigarettes?). The food companies don't want you to make your own tasty food. They would rather you die of overeating induced via drug-enhanced diet.
2. wife got some "honey" for "cheap" at mega-store. Turned out it tasted horrible and the primary ingredient was--you guessed it: corn-syrup.

If you wonder why kids are developing a zillion and one allergies nowadays plus they need so many behavioral drugs, look no further than the junk they are eating. check your lables: just about everything that you eat from the store will have some type of sugar in it, plus some type of corn.
That plus the elimination of mandatory physical education classes has reduced the american child to a couch potato with a joy-stick attached. Anything to keep you "medicated" and "tuned in".