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Grow Corn in a Solidarity Garden

Posted by libhom Sunday, July 01, 2007

Bill Boyne has an excellent commentary on the devastating effects that converting corn to ethanol production can have on the poor. The problem already is bad in Mexico, where increasing corn flower prices have led to suffering and political instability.

There also are questions as to whether corn-based ethanol production contributes to global warming. This might seem counter-intuitive at first. However, US agriculture is largely based on using fertilizers that are petroleum based or which use a lot of energy to convert Nitrogen in the atmosphere into a form that plants can use.

Currently, fertilizing and processing corn into ethanol uses almost as much fossil fuel as it saves. Brazilian cane ethanol is far more efficient, but it might lose that edge due to the expense and energy spent in being shipped overseas in fuel-guzzling tankers.
- Reuters Article: “Ethanol May Not Ease Global Warming, UN Says” 3/6/07

There is a concrete step you can take to show your support of poor people who are paying the price for ethanol to corn. If you have a yard and the the only agricultural product you are generating is grass clippings, you should convert part of that yard to a Solidarity Garden and grow corn. If enough Americans take some of the energy and land that we devote to lawns and covert it over to corn production, that will reduce price pressure on a commodity that is a major part of household budgets in Mexico.

There are other general advantages to converting some lawn real estate into food real estate. The food tastes better. Vitamins and other organic nutrients will not have had time to decompose while the crops sit on trucks and on grocery shelves.

Growing corn and other food at home fights Global Warming as well. It gets rid of shipping and the fuel costs involved. Switching over lawn grass to food production means that some of the petroleum based and the energy consuming fertilizers used to make lawns pretty ends up replacing the compounds used in large scale agribusiness.

Talking about your Solidarity Garden is a way to educate others about the problems with corn-based ethanol production. You also can use your Solidarity Garden to educate people that the Bush regime is pushing for increasing ethanol subsidies that already are over $3 billion a year, when the money would be better used to subsidize geothermal, wind, and solar power, all of which do more to fight global warming.

Besides, seeing the corn grow is fun.

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