More than 40 percent of the world’s corn is grown in the USA, and more than 50 percent of the corn grown in the USA has been genetically modified. Moreover, when you add together fertilizers, pesticides, production and transportation, it takes more than 1 calorie of fossil fuel energy to produce 1 calorie of processable corn. In fact, 1 fifth of America’s petroleum consumption goes to the production and transportation of food.
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It is estimated that this year’s corn harvest in the USA will amount to roughly 12.3 billion bushels. There are about 90 ears of corn in the average bushel. That means that this years harvest will result in approximately 1.1 trillion ears of corn. That is enough to supply every American with 10 ears of corn every day for a year.
Eating the kernels off of one ear of corn accounts for the intake of roughly 132 calories.
The recommended daily calorie intake varies between 1800 and 3000 depending upon height, weight, and activeness. So if the average recommended calorie intake is around 2400 calories per day, it would take about 18 ears of corn each day to have sufficient energy.
Livestock in America consumes 60 percent of America’s corn. That means that every year, 660 billion ears of corn go to cows, pigs, chickens, sheep, catfish, and—thanks to some genetic engineering—even salmon. If 18 ears of corn can sustain a human’s necessary calorie intake for a day, then the corn consumed by livestock alone could support 100 million people per year. In other words, American livestock eat enough corn to sustain 1.5 percent of the world’s total human population.
It takes roughly 10 pounds of corn to grow 1 pound of beef. Because of the fact that cows cannot naturally digest corn, 70 percent of America’s total antibiotics go to fighting stomach ulcers and other diseases in cattle. Moreover, if you total the amount of petroleum used to grow and transport the corn consumed by 1 cow from birth to the time of its slaughter, it will have consumed over 1 barrel of petroleum.
The waste from 1 cow is equivalent to that of 17 humans. There are roughly100 million cattle in the USA. That means that the waste from the American cattle population accounts for nearly 6 times that of the American human population. And on top of that, cattle account for roughly 26 percent of all methane emissions in the USA. That is just under that of landfills at 34 percent, and over that of natural gas and oil systems at 22%.
Since the world’s cattle population is near 1.3 billion, there is over 3 times more cow feces added to the planet daily than human feces.
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About 20 percent of corn is processed as ethanol. That is expected to rise to above 30 percent by 2015.
About 10 percent of corn grown in the USA is processed into corn syrup. Corn syrup is about 20 percent cheaper than other sources of sugar. In 30 years, the demand for corn syrup has grown by 30 percent while the demand for sugar has dropped.
Americans consume an average of 42 pounds of high fructose corn syrup each per year, which is a great contribution to the nation’s obesity crisis. Over 70 percent of corn syrup ends up as a beverage sweetener.
Last year, 139 million gallons of soda were consumed in Brooklyn, New York. There are about 2.5 million people in Brooklyn, NY; which means that Brooklyners average about 56 gallons of soda each per year, or 1.5 cans of soda per day. 1 sweetened soda per day doubles the amount of risk for diabetes. It is a fact that1 in 8 New Yorkers now has diabetes.
Cheney, Ian and Curtis Ellis. King Corn. Dir. Aaron Woolf. 2007
Pollan, Michael. The Omnivore’s Dilemma. New York: The Penguin Press, 2006.
Yousfi, Jennifer. Corn Price Report. Money Morning. August, 2008. http://www.moneymorning.com/money-morning-corn-price-report/.
Mangino, Joe. US EPA Cattle Enteric Fermentation Model (CEFM). Environmental Protection Agency. April 30, 2003.
Maize. Wikipedia. August, 2008.
Voiland, Adam. Health Reasons to Cut Back on Corn Consumption. US News and World Report. December 17, 2007.