Corn Country

If you are what you eat, then most of Americans are not beef, nor chicken, but corn. A staple food originated and traditionally worshipped in Central America, corn has become one of the pillars that sustain modern material cornucopia. Humans directly consume only 2.7% of the 12.1 billion bushels of corn produced annually, while the rest are processed into other forms of calories that furnishes the bountiful modern world. Each year, 43% of U.S. corn are fed in bulk to livestock in industrial farms, which gratify carnivorous moderns with affordable meat and the blessing of abundance. Another 8 percent goes into our drinks as the controversial sweetener High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS), which significantly contributes to both physical comfort and obesities of American people. The other 30.2% of corn production is processed into ethanol, or biofuels that not only cause more emission than fossil fuels but also generate fewer calories than the fossil fuel used to produce it does. It takes roughly 1.5 gallons of fossil fuel to generate 1 gallon of corn biofuel because the supply of the latter is based on industrial motorized corn farming, which inefficiently consumes vast quantity of fossil fuel. Actually, as many other products of modern society, the cheap supply of corn also builds upon the availability of cheap fossil fuels. On the upstream of production chain, the massive quantity of corn production has kept the price unreasonably low and farmers constantly in debt. Corn farmers have been forced to scale up their production efficiency: bushels per acre every year, by increasing fossil fuel input or by adopting GMO, and in some cases both. Exploited Midwest land and households has been sustaining our country, pouring fossil fuel products into the air and land. Our food system has forced both Cornproducers and consumers into a vicious cycle of mutually reinforcing poverty and low quality food based on cheap fossil fuel. Thus, our agriculture system is unimaginably vulnerable and unprepared, facing the prospect of energy shortage. We do produce more than enough food annually, but too large a portion of it is cheap corn and its products (such as industrial meat). And our distribution system has already created extreme inequality in places like food desert where people survive on corn and its products.