This might not be a big deal to anyone other than me…. but it should be. Not because I’m an eater of processed foods, but because I’m very aware of the purpose that inexpensive foods serve in our society… and if the prices start to rise again, I feel like it will – once again – change the quality of food accessible to those with the least to spend.
What am I talking about? This:
If anyone ever needed further evidence that corn is the most important and widely used element in the food supply, here it is: On Tuesday, no fewer than nine food industry groups banded together (along with oil companies) to sue the EPA over its decision last month to boost the allowable amount of corn-based ethanol in vehicle fuel from 10% to 20%.Corn is a sacred crop for food companies, because without it there would be a whole lot less processed food and meat would probably get a whole lot more expensive. Corn-based ingredients like modified corn starch, maltodextrin, propylene glycol, glycerin, citric acid, xantham gum and, of course, high fructose corn syrup are the building blocks of products ranging from breakfast cereal and salad dressing to chicken nuggets and ice cream.
But the biggest chunk of corn grown in the U.S. — and we’re far and away the biggest producer — goes into the feed that’s given to cattle, pigs and chickens. This accounts for 42%, while ethanol represents the next biggest use, gobbling up 32%.
The food groups involved in the suit — the Grocery Manufacturers Association, the American Meat Institute, the National Council of Chain Restaurants, the National Meat Association, the National Turkey Federation, the National Chicken Association, the National Pork Producers Council, the Snack Food Association and the American Frozen Food Institute — are worried that increased demand for ethanol is going to result in higher corn prices, a natural fear since it’s already happening. Corn prices are at a two-year high thanks to some combination of ethanol and projected lower yields.
The EPA’s decision to allow E15 fuel in cars that were made after the 2006 model year delivers a crushing blow to food processors and the meat industry, both of whom devoted considerable effort to lobbying against this. The groups have also been trying in vain to hack away at ethanol’s generous tax subsidies and import restrictions. The lawsuit, which was filed in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia, alleges that the EPA doesn’t have the authority to issue the new rule.
“For those consumers worried about climbing food prices, this decision will increase the amount of corn being diverted to our gas tanks and away from meat and poultry production,” said J. Patrick Boyle, CEO of the American Meat Institute.
I’m aware of the need for concern – really, I am. But I have no empathy what-so-ever for Big Food – they’ve manipulated crops and made “food” out of nothing, instead of making food out of… well, food. And while some might see that as something to be applauded in regards to food security, it ignores the point that food is supposed to nourish our bodies. When the food doesn’t do that, we suffer as a nation in regard to our health. It just doesn’t work.
I have a few thoughts in regard to this:
1) “Corn is a sacred crop for food companies, because without it there would be a whole lot less processed food and meat would probably get a whole lot more expensive. Corn-based ingredients like modified corn starch, maltodextrin, propylene glycol, glycerin, citric acid, xantham gum and, of course, high fructose corn syrup are the building blocks of products ranging from breakfast cereal and salad dressing to chicken nuggets and ice cream.”
I don’t know to explain this, but it’s disturbing. The ingredients for ice cream are cream, salt, sugar, vanilla extract and a strong right (left?) arm. How does corn fit into this? Why does corn fit into this?
2) Y’all know I’m a hippie, so let me put this out here: This speaks to sustainability in our current food system. We suck down foods that aren’t, well, foods…. just clever manipulations of corn. Because the price of corn is ridiculously cheap, the industry decided to use corn in as many ways as they could to save money. That’s smart… but it shortchanged us all because while it may “stuff” us it certainly doesn’t “nourish” us, and that’s the primary purpose of food.
If the demand for an item increases, the supply decreases.
If the Environmental Protection Agency wants to help move us off of oil (a resource that, once fully depleted cannot be replenished) onto a corn-based fuel (corn, something that obviously can be easily renewed)… the food industry wants to block that because then they’d actually have to make food out of food? Not chemicals derived from corn?
If the demand for an item increases, the price increases as well. If you ran a store that had the same five shoppers every day, and then one day you get 200 shoppers in all at the same time? Would you be an opportunist and raise your prices so that you could benefit off of the boom? Especially since you know you might be back to those same five shoppers tomorrow? Let’s be real, here.
The EPA increasing the amount of corn that can be used in ethanol increases the demand, causing the price to raise for everyone… and that cost will be passed onto the consumer. A wildly unstable system was created by greed (it’s cheaper to create food out of corn instead of food!!!!!), and instead of recognizing this and deciding to do right by it… they’d rather do what they can to halt our progress in being less dependent upon oil?
Think about that for a minute – we all remember the gigantic gas hike a while back. We all were crushed by how much the price of gas was. The price of food went up! We’ve all benefit from an unsustainable system, and it’s not helping us to ignore these problems and sue instead of making these very necessary changes. Think about the last time you heard of an industry trying to avoid evolving with the times and needs of the public. It collapsed. Food is far too necessary for the stubbornness of the industry to go this route.
I talk a lot about the wellness and weight loss benefits of clean eating, but the environmental element is usually what gives me the most backlash. It’s okay- I still love y’all. What makes this important is that if you are still a purchaser of processed foods, you may slowly start to feel a pinch in your wallet because of the coming changes in the system. I also wouldn’t be surprised to see changes in the “recipes” for some of America’s favorite processed foods, in order to keep the cost down… which will, undoubtedly, turn into even more malnourishment.
What are your thoughts?