Thursday, June 03, 2010

Corn, the Ungreen

Calling corn a sustainable crop is like saying oil is a renewable resource.
I loosely paraphrase this from "The Compassionate Carnivore" written by Catherine Friend.  I love that concept.  Environmentalists everywhere are jumping on the Cornwagon.  Because it's a crop.  It can be renewed within a growing season.
They don't think about the fact that it requires thousands of pounds of chemicals to be grown profitably.  Or the tons of fossil fuels involved in the growth, transportation and processing of that corn into usable derivatives; then delivering the derivatives somewhere useful.
Corn is only green in the field.  And then, it's only green to your eyes.  Sure, in moderation it isn't harmful.  But in the mass quantities it's grown today, it isn't good for the soil, or the Earth.  Add in the GM seeds that are often used to grow conventional corn, the gallons of chemicals used to keep it "healthy" and pest free, and the machinery used to harvest and process it and you have an Earthday nightmare.  
Not only is corn unsustainable, it's in everything.  If something were to happen en masse to our corn crop, what would Americans eat?
Not corn chips or tacos or corn bread, obviously.  No more popcorn.
Pizza makers would scramble to find a new product to dust their boards with.  And soda drinkers will be left mixing juice with seltzer.
They may need to squeeze their own juice, too. 
Cheese makers would be stuck with bricks of cheese, since the shredded requires an anticaking agent, and many would have to find new packaging that doesn't involve corn starch.
Conventional farmers would lose large quantities of their stock...Which means factory farms would be in serious trouble.
Tylenol, which is encapsulated with cornstarch, would be unavailable.
And you wouldn't be able to drown your headache in beer, which is fermented from corn, either. 
Manufacturing would pause, since there's corn in several construction materials. 
 Soap, shampoo, cleaning products, even producers of hand sanitizers would run into a trouble.  There would be nothing to ripen green fruit with, no dextrose for salt. 
No toothpaste, no xanthan gum.  No baby powder, or diapers, or menstrual pads.

The medication issue would probably be the worst, and all medical grade cleansers would be hoarded in hospitals for sterile procedures.
Of course, the good side would be that without corn, our diet as a nation might improve to the point that the need for certain medications and medical attention might actually drop.
Which would probably be good for the environment, too.
And of course, us uncornies would suddenly have a lot of doors open in the shopping world.  :-)

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