One of today’s New York Times editorial pieces discusses the price of corn. It appears that the price of a bushel of corn is more than 150% greater than it was a year ago. And this despite record harvest. Why? One reason is the demand for ethanol. Another is a smaller corn reserve than usual, and yet another is that commodities are the hot new investment opportunity for speculators.
It’s tempting to assume that the effect of sharply higher prices is confined primarily to the agricultural sector. But where corn is concerned, we are all part of the agricultural sector. The historical cheapness of corn has driven it into nearly every aspect of our economy, in the form, most familiarly, of corn syrup. The low price of corn over the past half-century lies at the very foundation of America’s historically (and unrealistically) low food prices.
we are entering a new dynamic now. While there has been talk recently about refining ethanol from sources other than corn, that could take a while. So at the moment what we are trying to do is gratify those appetites from the same resource: agricultural land. No matter how high prices go, what will need to change isn’t the amount of corn acreage available or even the size of the enormous harvests we are already getting. What will need to change is the size of our appetites.
Or perhaps we can change the direction of our appetites. No one consuming a quality low-carb diet filled with grass-fed meats, green leafy and colorful vegetables, and low-carb fruits eats much corn. Everyone is always exhorting us to conserve oil by driving more gasoline efficient cars, turning down our heat, etc.; let’s start a movement to conserve corn by, well, not eating it. Corn works much better to power cars than it does to power us.
Avoid corn, save American agriculture. Or depending on your feelings about capitalism–quit eating corn and ruin a speculator.