Corn, drought, and a healthy diet
There was a fascinating discussion on KCRW’s To The Point today regarding the major ongoing drought and its effect on food production. The show focused more on economics than nutrition, but it was still interesting from the standpoint of healthy diet and nutrition, given the huge impact that inexpensive corn has had on modern obesity. It’s largely thanks to corn that we have such huge quantities of low-nutrient, high-calorie foods on the market today.
Host Warren Olney interviewed an agriculture reporter, a farmer/professor, a creator of the documentary King Corn, and a representative of the National Crop Insurance Services. Topics covered included the current state of this year’s corn crop (not good—potentially even as bad as during the Dust Bowl years), markets most likely to be affected (overseas vs. U.S.; ethanol), what will happen to food prices (milk is already up; poultry will go up; beef will go down initially before becoming much higher); and what will happen to the farmers (they’ll make it through with crop insurance, which is partly subsidized by taxpayer dollars). And if the drought continues for another year, or if future droughts become more common? That will be trouble.
You can listen online or download the podcast here: Drought and King Corn. (Skip to about 7:45 from the start if you don’t want to hear the latest about the Aurora shootings.)
The movie King Corn is pretty entertaining. It’s a documentary by a couple of guys who graduated from college in Boston, heard that their bodies were mostly made of corn, and decided to move to Iowa. They planted an acre of corn so they could grow it and follow it through its life cycle into the market to see where it ended up. Click the picture below and you can watch the entire movie for free at Hulu: