Monday, June 25, 2007

Legitimate beef

What the heck is the deal with corn these days?

Food costs are skyrocketing, and I haven't read much about inflation, but I know it's impacting my own budget. Particularly annoying is the rising cost of corn and all things corn-related.

The big yellow corn disaster a couple years ago (genetically modified yellow corn proved not to work out... too bad that's all we planted and we didn't bank adequate seed for UNMODIFIED corn. Whoops.) was enough.

(Okay, off the topic for a second. I don't fear genetic modification as much as many health conscious foodies... for the reason that all of the food we eat is modified heavily by selective breeding and other natural means of major genetic manipulation. So, we do things differently with bioscience "FrankenFoods"; we're doing the SAME things differently. On the other hand... Monocropping is bad. If you get one little blight or fungus, it might wipe out a whole, unexpectedly fragile, staple crop. Like, say, yellow corn. And I don't like modifying for indigestibility, as with Olestra and Splenda (I know they do it after the fact... some genius will get the OTHER idea sometime and raise non-nutritive plants.) And I am not very keen on selecting for nasty characteristics, like "does not rot but tastes like wallpaper," or like "is always the same size." Select for flavor and nutrients, you bastards.)

Back to the topic. Cost; all things corn-related. Take birdseed, for example.

"Birdseed?" You might ask.

Birdseed. Wild Bird World sent us a flyer stating that the cost of some bird foodstuffs, like, obviously, cracked corn, but also such treats as sunflower seed and niger thistle, will skyrocket; this affects the policies they must have regarding seed banking (different meaning than the usual seed banks, meaning supply from which we can preserve a species; in this case it means buying large portions and picking it up a little at a time) like putting shorter deadlines on pickup dates, etc. Why?

Because many farmers who produce corn are now selling it for ethanol production. Not for birdseed; more importantly, not for cooking oil (where sunflowers and niger comes in, as they are healthy trans-fat free alternatives and are therefore otherwise threatened as birdseed)! And not for cattle feed, so the price of beef, milk products, and cheese are soaring. (If you were ever considering giving up the biggest darkest sin in American politics, the beef and milk lobby-- which is another whole source of rage and ranting for me but I will get to it later, now is the time to give it a go.)

The world's gone mad. For one thing, a lot of this stuff is rank opportunism; cows eat a hell of a lot of other stuff than corn (e.g. cows! Okay, not so much anymore, but perhaps other ugly things... certainly soy. Know something about soy? Tofu is WAY down. I've bought it for a dollar a tub the last 10 times I've bought it.) Look that horse in the mouth. The reason costs are up is because supply and demand say you'll pay more for your corn; any other reason offered is padding.

Corn, as in cornmeal, chips, and cooking oil, is off the chart. And yet the bigger-than-you're-supposed-to-eat-for-a-dayburger is still under $1. To quote Yakov Smirnoff... what a country. Birdseed goes up, but beef stays on subsidy.

Fuel costs are up? Well, obviously the answer is to raise food costs, not to stop producing Hummers and start MANDATING hybrids, or at least fuel efficiency. /sarcasm

My 1980s self is still disgruntled not to have a hovercraft, let alone an electric car. Bah.

1 comment:

Robert Link said...

Hovercraft. I _love_ you kids.