mad in pursuit journal


Law of Unintended Consequences

Back deck bird feeder hangs from the railing. Our good intentions: to feed the local flocks of pretty little tufted titmice, finches, cardinals and chickadees. Last week we looked out the back door to find a mysterious circle of down and plucked gray feathers around the feeder. Oh-h-h........... something dreadful had happened. Our conclusion: a hawk had dined here. Picked out her bird, sat on the rail and plucked him before flying away with the carcass. Our cafe for little passerines had become a raptor fast-food joint. Oops. Sorry.

The other night we watched "King Corn" (2007), a documentary about a couple guys who planted an acre of corn in Iowa and followed it to market. Their reason: chemical analysis had showed their hair was composed mostly of corn molecules.

In the 1970s, the Earl Butz Agriculture Dept set off on a policy of paying farmers to produce corn (instead of paying them to keep fields out of production). The goal: cheap food. The result: a yield of nearly 200 bushels of corn per acre -- corn engineered to be nearly all starch and no protein. Beef cattle are fed corn (which destroys their stomachs but luckily they are slaughtered before they drop dead). And the corn sweetener business -- high fructose corn syrup -- was born. It's in everything.

The unintended consequences: Americans are fat but starving. Our metabolisms are crapped out and Type II diabetes is skyrocketing. Our bodies are turning into corn. Oops. Sorry.

It does make me think now that corn-based ethanol is part of the solution. Cut back back on meat. Forget sweetened soft-drinks. Turn ourselves back into human beings.


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