Thursday, June 28, 2012

So I Had A Thought...About All Those Corn Fields...

...after field...
...after field...

... after field of corn.

For farm...

...after farm...

...after farm...

...after farm...

...after farm...

...after farm.

I think the pictures explain it pretty well, but just in case the point was missed, I'll explain it.


We were driving up to see my mother a few weeks ago, and during the trip (she's 3 hours away), I had a thought about all of the corn fields I was seeing.

I've always grown up surrounded by them, and never thought much of it.  It wasn't until that trip that I really realized just how many of them there are.  They are EVERYWHERE.  Around here, it's easily 3/4 of the crops being grown.  (The other 1/4 is split between wheat and soybeans.)

It made me wonder...why the hell do we have so much cow corn??

A good amount of that corn is being grown just to feed all the animals being raised for slaughter, like cows/pigs/chickens/etc., and there are millions of them.

The fact is that an average 1000 pound bovine is fed anywhere from 1-4% of it's body weight in corn a day.  That's 10-40 pounds of corn.  A DAY.  (And that's ONE COW.)  So just imagine how much a field of cows eat!!  According to the EPA, in 2000, the US produced 10 billion bushels of corn, which works out to 73 million acres of land, and just over 15 billion dollars in revenue.  It also says that 80% of that corn was consumed by livestock.

Astonishing, isn't it?!

Now, what if INSTEAD of growing cow corn, we grew other foods...ones that would be healthy and more digestible for humans?  (When it comes out the other end looking the same as when it went in...that means your body didn't digest it properly...)

What would that mean for us?

1.  It would mean that we would have to cut down on the number of cows (and pigs, and chickens) we are raising, because we'd have less corn to feed them.  That would be a mission in itself, but would benefit everyone in the long run.

Here are some numbers:

In 2010, the US consumed 26.4 billion pounds of beef.
The United States is the world's largest poultry producer and the second-largest egg producer and exporter of poultry meat. U.S. poultry meat production totals over 43 billion pounds annually.
In 2009, on average, each person in the U.S. consumed 46.6 pounds of pork.
In 2009, on average, each person in the U.S. consumed just over 607 pounds of dairy products.

Keep in mind, none of my numbers include any other corn-fed animals raised for food, like horses, sheep, seafood (trout), ducks, etc.

2.  It would mean that we would no longer be eating foods (or drinking milk) that was tainted with growth hormones.  HERE IS A LINK to information on some problems that they can cause.  I think common sense tells us that ingesting growth hormones is not going to be healthy for us.  Right?

(In the US, it is still very common for dairy cows to also get these hormones to increase milk production.  The facts are terrifying, and very real.  In Canada, cows are not allowed to be given any type of growth hormone to increase production of milk, though beef cattle are still being given hormones.)

3. It means that we would no longer be aggravating the problem of climate change, as livestock are a major contributing factor to that.

4. It means that we would have a surplus of food, instead of hunger.  And we could take it further...take it to our own front yards, not just the fields.  We could feed all the people in our communities and still have enough for our own families.  We could provide healthy, safe food for those unable to grow their own, and those in need.

No more need for growth hormones.

But it would mean breaking the meat/dairy addiction that so many people have.  And the stigma of NOT eating meat.  (As strange as that sounds, it's real.  Just Google "I hate vegetarians", or "I hate vegans".)
5. It would also mean that we wouldn't have animals suffering needlessly for human consumption.  Because we just don't need to rely on them anymore.

Bovine Feed Lots

"Cage Free" Pigs.

This is what every pig farm I've ever been to looks like.

"Cage Free" chickens.
We need to start thinking about sustainability and health, and stop thinking about what we WANT right here, right now.  We need to think of the consequences of living our lives like that.

This world has become very selfish.  Even the most caring people don't seem to really understand that what they're doing by buying meat and dairy is condoning this kind of practice.  Because unless you are raising your own animals, you do NOT know without a shadow of a doubt, that the animals are being treated humanely, that their lives are GOOD, that they are not genetically modified to grow to size in half the time as their pre-altered ancestors, and that they are killed quickly and as peacefully as possible.  We assume that what we're buying is good, quality meat.  We think that what we're eating is an animal that was fed good food that wasn't biologically engineered for profits in any way.  We believe that they are killed quickly and humanely, and most of us would suddenly feel the need to throw up when the truth is in front of us.  Because what we believe...what we've been LED to believe is just not the reality of it.

They are (most of the time) un-knowingly supporting this kind of treatment of animals, and the damage to our environment caused by livestock.  *I know that most people have no idea, because I used to WORK in meat, and I had no idea either.  It's just not common knowledge.*

Also, all of this corn that's being grown is something that needs to be sprayed several times throughout the year.  That puts chemicals in the air, in our food, and in our ground water. We're breathing it into our lungs, we're eating it, and most people just have never thought too much about it.  But we need to.
**Unless of course, they use the genetically modified corn that doesn't need spray...and that's scary in a completely different way.  (Don't forget, the animals you eat are eating this stuff!!)

As a person who has grown food on a small scale, I know that growing food for people isn't EASY.  But "
backyard gardening helps the planet in many ways. If you grow your food organically, without pesticides and herbicides, you’ll spare the earth the burden of unnecessary air and water pollution, for example. You’ll also reduce the use of fossil fuels and the resulting pollution that comes from the transport of fresh produce from all over the world (in planes and refrigerated trucks) to your supermarket."  (Taken from HERE.)I know that common sense tells us that growing food other than corn or soybeans would require more work, especially if we were growing it responsibly.  But the outcome would be worth every drop of sweat.  We would all be better for it!

We have the ability to live and eat healthier.  We have the ability to help our planet (which we're leaving to our children, remember).  We have the ability to change our landscape, our communities, and our future.  We don't HAVE to watch this happen and just LET it.  We can say that we want better.  And we have the right to expect it. 

I hope for a future with more common sense, and less corn fields.  I hope that  one day, more people will say that it's getting out of hand...that eating meat, or drinking dairy just isn't worth the impact on our bodies, our health, and our earth.  Because it really just ISN'T.

*I just want to point out here that I don't HATE anyone for eating meat, or drinking dairy.  AT all.  But there are things that I feel people need to know.  There are things I think that people need to NOTICE.  And I'm GOING to say what needs to be said.
Not judging.  Just educating.


  1. All good points, except that I disagree that vegetarianism is the answer. Grain-based diets are not healthy, and it's hard to be a vegetarian and also be grain/wheat free. Feedlot beef is no good; buying a side of beef from a local farmer is good, when you know what the animal ate and how it was raised. But yes, corn is not good food for anyone, people or cows. Well, maybe birds...

  2. Wonderful!

    Vegetarians/vegans are not necessarily on a grain based diet. Why not a fruit and vegetable based diet? Unless what you are eating is something that you can eat without cooking, with bare hands (no utensils) and nothing but you, it's not natural. Before we had fires, before we had tools, we could not have gone and killed a cow with our bare hands and ripped through its hide with our dull teeth.

    We're gluten free/vegan and you're right, it IS hard. But life has never been easy. People used to haul buckets of water from streams very long distances to their houses just so they had water to use - I bet that was pretty hard, but it was a necessity.