I read too many articles that just really fire me up, get me angry -- piss me off (better off than on?). It always frustrates me when people say we need more corn fields to feed the world. First, the majority of corn goes to make ethanol. Second, corn is used to quickly stuff cattle in finishing lots, making the meat fattier and a leading contributor to human heart disease. Third, we already waste something like 50% of the food we have due to spoilage at home or in the grocery store or in transport from half a world away.
"This expansion of the Corn Belt is fueled in part by America's green
energy policy, which requires oil companies to blend billions of gallons
of corn ethanol into their gasoline. In 2010, fuel became the No. 1 use
for corn in America, a title it held in 2011 and 2012 and narrowly lost
this year. That helps keep prices high."
"What the green-energy program has made profitable, however, is far
from green. A policy intended to reduce global warming is encouraging a
farming practice that actually could worsen it. That's because
plowing into untouched grassland releases carbon dioxide that has been
naturally locked in the soil. It also increases erosion and requires
farmers to use fertilizers and other industrial chemicals. In turn, that
destroys native plants and wipes out wildlife habitats."
"It appeared so damaging that scientists warned that America's
corn-for-ethanol policy would fail as an anti-global warming strategy if
too many farmers plowed over virgin land.The Obama
administration argued that would not happen. But the administration
didn't set up a way to monitor whether it actually happened. It did. More
than 1.2 million acres of grassland have been lost since the federal
government required that gasoline be blended with increasing amounts of
ethanol, an Associated Press analysis of satellite data found. Plots
that were wild grass or pastureland seven years ago are now corn and
soybean fields. That's in addition to the 5 million acres of
farmland that had been aside for conservation - more than Yellowstone,
Everglades and Yosemite National Parks combined - that have vanished
since Obama took office."
"Nebraska has lost at least 830,000 acres of grassland, a total larger than New York City, Los Angeles and Dallas combined."
"...much of the land being converted is not suited to crop production, and
South Dakota's strong winds and rains will erode the topsoil."
Full article here.
And so I feel a moral imperative to cash out all I own, buy as much land as I can, and seed the crap out of it with prairie. And this is also why you should use as many native plants out your door as you can -- not because you're helping preserve prairie or their ecosystems, but because you're aware of the power of prairie, ready to learn more about it, saying to your neighbors this is not who we have to be, we can be better.