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“We’re Not Growing Quality, We’re Growing Crap”

2011/06/22

I’m taking a sabbatical from writing for a while –  for how long,  I don’t know. I do know that I need a bit of a change/break. In the meantime, I’ll be posting food and gardening related links and videos, as it is summer and the livin’ (and eating) should be easy and good! The quote in today’s headline comes from the documentary “King Corn” that was released in 2007, but is just as relevant four years later:

KING CORN tells the story of two friends, one acre of corn, and the subsidized crop that drives our fast-food nation. As the film unfolds, Ian Cheney and Curt Ellis, best friends from college on the east coast, move to the heartland to learn where their food comes from. With the help of friendly neighbors, genetically modified seeds, and powerful herbicides, they plant and grow a bumper crop of America’s most-productive, most-ubiquitous grain on one acre of Iowa soil. But when they try to follow their pile of corn into the food system, what they find questions about how we eat—and how we farm.

More links:

King Corn

8 Comments leave one →
  1. 2011/06/22 7:04 am

    King Corn is not either accurate, of even current, So much changed since it’s release that it is no longer relevant.

    • Christine permalink*
      2011/06/22 7:24 am

      Hi Michael – based on your website address, Minnesota farm, you sound like you speak from experience. Do you want to share more specifically about what has changed? I think most experts agree that North Americans are stilling consuming corn in just about every processed food we eat, and that this is really unhealthy for us, and not sustainable in the long run for the farmers or the earth.

  2. Keith Elliott permalink
    2011/06/22 10:58 am

    Good morning Michael…when you say “not accurate” what are you referring to? Not for a minute do I doubt your word, it would just be nice to hear from someone such as yourself who may well have first hand knowledge.

  3. 2011/06/22 6:10 pm

    Ohhhh, I gotta watch that! I have heard that farmers that grow some of the corn, cannot even eat it to feed themselves, it is so crappy. So much is fed to cows (instead of grass, which is what cows should be having). Corn is the root of obesity, corn is the root of the dead zone in the Gulf, corn is the root of the death of the soil through extensive pesticide use.

    My choice – don’t buy anything in a box. That eliminates a lot of processed foods!

    • Christine permalink*
      2011/06/22 9:06 pm

      Best advice ever, Sherry – it not only means we don’t get all that added high fructose corn syrup, it also means we’re not eating Monsanto’s GM foods – double benefit!

  4. 2011/06/30 8:06 am

    King Corn makes some statements that really are preposterous. SherryGreens comment highlights one of them. Corn is a grass. So how can you say that cows are meant to eat grass and not corn. Cows eat a variety of things and can digest almost anything that contains complex starches. If cows should happen to get out of their pastures of grass they head for the corn field. They think it’s candy.
    The corn that is raised on most farm fields is dent corn and is edible, but not very tasty. Our pioneer forefathers used it ground up in corn bread and mush. Dent corn is better used as a livestock or industrial feed stock.
    Corn is not the root of obesity, overeating is. Americans have lots of cheap food and not enough exercise. It’s easy to blame a product like High Fructose Corn Syrup that makes up such a small part of our diet, and not think about the changes in our life style. If we all had to really do physical work for a living none of us would be overweight. Stop drinking that liquid candy (soda) and drink water.
    The dead zone was around long before modern agriculture, and has actually been getting smaller these past years.
    Pesticide use has decreased as better, more specific chemicals are produced. We used to use gallons of 2-4D and pounds of atrazine per acre, we now use ounces of modern weed killers. They include such weed killers as glyphosate (Roundup) that was originally designed to be a soap, and nature based products such as Callisto.
    Genetically modified crops,GMO’s, have helped farmers produce more with less. We now use less fertilizer than we did 50 years ago but produce twice the corn. GMO’s have given the corn pant resistance to insect infestations so that we no longer need to spray on insecticides. They have given the corn plant better roots so that they are more tolerant to drought. GMO’s may be the best hope we have to feed all of tomorrows people, all while using fewer resources than we do today.
    Much has changed since King Corn was produced, and will continue to change. It is unfortunate that those who have no tie to agriculture will believe the worst, when there is so much good happening.

  5. Christine permalink*
    2011/07/01 8:44 am

    Michael, I understand that as a farmer that you believe you are doing the right thing – nobody goes into farming to produce or sell a substandard product!
    You do presume that those of us commenting have “no tie to agriculture”. In fact, I grew up on a farm with a cattle feedlot (and those big blue silos full of silage), and we also had a hog operation and (at one point) a barn full of laying hens. So, I’m intimately familiar with modern farms, and farmers.
    Are you familiar with Joel Salatin? You can’t accuse him of not having ties to agriculture, and he critiques it – a lot! – from the inside out.
    Anyway, feel free to share your perspective here, but more and more people feel like modern agriculture has gone down a wrong path. Not because of individual farmers like you and my father & uncles, but because of a system that for over 50 years has favoured large industrialized production that is done in an unsustainable way. Even leaving the corn/high fructose corn syrup out of the argument (and, like you as a farmer don’t like people commenting on farm practises, as a former healthcare worker I don’t feel that comments like “corn is not the root of obesity, overeating is” accurately depict what is going on in the North American diet/obesity epidemic) the amount of fossil fuels that are burned to produce food in the agro-business sector is sustainable only if we don’t consider peak oil and climate change.

  6. Christine permalink*
    2011/07/01 9:02 am

    Also, Michael, when you make statements like “the dead zone was around long before modern agriculture, and has actually been getting smaller these past years.” and “Pesticide use has decreased as better, more specific chemicals are produced” it would be helpful if you provided some links to back up these statements. For example, a quick google search on the ocean dead zone and this link came up from June, 2011 article in the NY Times:
    “Government studies have traced a majority of those chemicals in the runoff to nine farming states, and yet today, decades after the dead zones began forming, there is still little political common ground on how to abate this perennial problem. Scientists who study dead zones predict that the affected area will increase significantly this year, breaking records for size and damage. ”

    http://www.nytimes.com/2011/06/03/science/earth/03runoff.html?_r=1

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