Monday, August 22, 2011

Corny Back-to-School Post

It's the first day back to school for many (on this Blue Monday in the blog) and I am educating myself about corn just in time for the local Sweet Corn Blues Festival, coming up next weekend. I'm reading The Omnivore's Dilemma, by Michael Pollan.

I had heard a lot about this one, read excerpts here and there, and loved The Botany of Desire.* Now that I'm in it, I'm so glad I am learning in more detail about the farm subsidy, the stomach/s of the cow, and the farmers' own dilemmas. I grew up in farmland, surrounded by the corn/beans rotation described here, and, of course, learned a lot about ecology and agriculture in school and in life while growing up.

Speaking of school, I am glad there is a Young Reader's edition of this book!

The particular copy I'm reading (of the grown-up edition) is a gift of my poet friend Bill, who is restoring the prairie on some land he owns around here in the midst of farmland.

With the song "The Farmer and the Cowman Should Be Friends"*** running through your brain (handy link here, in case you want it as a ringtone), ponder this irony from The Omnivore's Dilemma:

These two companies [Cargill and ADM] now guide corn's path at every step of the way: They provide the pesticide and fertilizer to the farmers; operate most of America's grain elevators...; broker and ship most of the exports; perform the wet and dry milling; feed the livestock and then slaughter the corn-fattened animals; distill the ethanol; and manufacture the high-fructose corn syrup and the numberless other fractions derived from number 2 field corn. Oh yes--and help write many of the rules that govern this whole game, for Cargill and ADM exert considerable influence over U.S. agricultural policies. More even than the farmers who receive the checks (and the political blame for cashing them), these companies are the true beneficiaries of the "farm" subsidies that keep the river of cheap corn flowing. Cargill is the biggest privately held corporation in the world.

No further comment at this point on that point, but I'll keep telling you about my corn-based reading as I go.

*I even mention it in this prose poem/bar joke** "The Apple" in Blood Lotus #20!

**Speaking of bar jokes, check out this excellent reflection by Susan Ryder on courage and thinking outside the...boat.

***Rodgers and Hammerstein, Oklahoma

1 comment:

Collagemama said...

Have fun at the blues festival!