Posts Tagged ‘corn’

It’s a slightly perverse argument but we’re not the only ones to be making the connection between the recent rise in US corn prices and the good that might do us all.

As followers of Michael Pollan know well, major subsidies to US corn producers have made processed foods containing high fructose corn syrup much cheaper to buy than fresh fruits and vegetables.  And that has led a great many people on limited incomes to make choices that, while economically smart in the short term, have terrible health consequences over time.

But with corn prices soaring (thanks in part to growing demand for ethanol, the cost of petroleum-derived fertilizers and gasoline for transportation), it’s harder for manufacturers of highly-processed foods to low-ball their not-so-nutritious creations and easier for people looking to sell locally-produced, organically raised produce and meats to compete on price.

The same thought has apparently struck the New York Time’s Kim Severson, who wrote yesterday:

“if American staples like soda, fast-food hamburgers and frozen dinners don’t seem like such a bargain anymore, the American eating public might turn its attention to ingredients like local fruits and vegetables, and milk and meat from animals that eat grass. It turns out that those foods, already favorites of the critics of industrial food, have also dodged recent price increases.”

Kudos to Severson for calling up Pollan himself for a quote: “higher food prices,” he suggests, “level the playing field for sustainable food that doesn’t rely on fossil fuels.”

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