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I’m sharing with WWOF the following material derivative of a small package insert (printed on recycled paper) that I found in a 6 pack of delicious farm-fresh brown eggs while traveling through New England last weekend and was written by Kathy Moran for The Country Hen Farm News, 2008. Thanks, Kathy and crew, for taking the time to share your care – it matters!

Ethanol, a bio-fuel manufactured from corn, actually increases the effect of global warming. World poverty issues escalate in the human-food versus machine-food battle for the farm space that is required to grow the needed raw material. A Time Magazine article (The Clean Energy Scam) reported that ONE PERSON could eat for ONE YEAR on the corn needed to produce the ethanol to fill the tank of ONE SUV just ONE TIME.

Sugar Cane is said to be the only raw material that can make this conversion process “green” — an efficient enough process to cut emissions by more than it takes to produce the fuel. Until recently, Brazil was thought to be the perfect model of this bio-fuel success until they noticed the Amazon rain forest was being systematically razed to make more cane growing fields. The last half of 2007 saw an area the size of Rhode Island lost to deforestation, and this trend is likely to continue throughout the Amazon Basin.

Europe has cut its bio-fuel subsidies. New measures call for strict guidelines that reflect the standards they are designed to support. Did the crop come from sustainable sources? Did the crop come from a cleared forest or formerly productive farmland? What net effect has the production of that ethanol had on the environment?

Not only in the USA have food costs spiraled, but this spring there were riots in Haiti, Egypt and elsewhere to protest basic food costs and shortages. World Bank President Zoellick has said that we may have lost seven years in the fight on worldwide poverty. Ethanol fuels poverty, and the effects are lost educations, stunted physical growth, and depletion of both flora and fauna resources forever, not just a few missed meals!

The need to find “greener” energy alternatives is urgent. However, ethanol is one of the least environmentally friendly alternatives, and the American taxpayer is subsidizing it, and then paying higher prices for food as a result. From Time Magazine’s The Clean Energy Scam:

But several new studies show the biofuel boom is doing exactly the opposite of what its proponents intended: it’s dramatically accelerating global warming, imperiling the planet in the name of saving it. Corn ethanol, always environmentally suspect, turns out to be environmentally disastrous. Even cellulosic ethanol made from switchgrass, which has been promoted by eco-activists and eco-investors as well as by President Bush as the fuel of the future, looks less green than oil-derived gasoline.

My personal opinion: It seems totally crazy to me that the dwindling farmland anywhere on earth would be used to grow food for machines instead of for human beings and their herbivorous companions.

Contributing Author Lynn Cameron owns the AromaVital.com website and has conducted her own research into the complementary health field since the early seventies.

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6 Comments for "Ethanol — World Menacing Bio-Fuel from Corn"

  1. Anna

    "It seems totally crazy to me that the dwindling farmland anywhere on earth would be used to grow food for machines instead of for human beings and their herbivorous companions."

    Agreed. Though I tend to think farmland priorities should be for pastured herbivorous animals and polycultural farm practices rather than less nutritious monoculture corn crops for humans, such as corn, soy, wheat. Commodity grains like corn, soy, and wheat are mostly inedible for humans without a lot of processing (one can\’t even eat fresh grain corn off the cob, for instance), and they only provide excessive amounts of low quality food, food that is unnatural to humans in large quantities (humans have essentially pre-agriculture, paleo physiologies and corn is a agricultural, neolithic food [consumed in quantity for only 5,00-12,000 years], for which we are still not well adapted). But herbivorous animals on primarily pasture (not grains) are efficient converters of sunlight energy into high quality foods.

    Furthermore, the grass prairies of the world are perfect ecosystems, with renewal of the plains from the rotational grazing and replenishment of the soil by ranging herbivores. Digging up the soil for crops destroys the fertile soil that took eons to develop, scattering it to the wind and silting up waterways, removing the nutrients and soil structure, never to be fully replaced. Tilled soils are damaged, with far lower beneficial microbes; some soils are even chemicaly treated to make them \"dead\", with the thinking that humans can control all the variables. Ha!

    Agricultural crops allowed for a false sense of security which promoted excessive human population growth, and created feast or famine conditions to humans, since agriculture demands a stationary population rather than nomadic pastoralists who follow the herds. Of course, current realities prevent a complete reversal of agriculture, but the tired and flawed arguments about using grain for fuel or human feed needs to be put to rest. We must find ways to feed people with higher quality foods than grain, that also respect and preserve the world\’s ecosystems. Biodynamic, polycultural farms that recreate a natural system are a better answer than the unnatural mono-cultural \"dead-zone\" farms that attempt to subvert nature that are proliferating today. Mother nature always has the last word; too many humans just don\’t seem to get that.

  2. Diane Vigil

    Thanks for your comment, Anna; you have a real point there.

    On the other hand, I’m not sure that the bulk of modern society could be other than fairly stationary, and I’m not sure that (at least here in the U.S.) there’s enough open land to support nomadic pastoralists … would you think that there is?

    At any rate, I took a quick look at your site, and I must say that the Weekend Osso Buco sounds divine. :)

  3. Lynn Cameron

    Anna,

    What a kindred spirit you are! I, too, checked out the link to your recipes finding your welcome references to using lard, and I am grateful to find out what to do with all those pkgs. marked,\’shanks\’ in my freezer.

    Just last week our Adirondack Weston A. Price food group rendered quantities of pork fat from a locally-raised pastured pig, so I\’ve been inspired to be in the kitchen trying to recreate the taste of my grandma\’s doughnuts deep-fried in lard.

    I have cooked for my diabetic husband for 30 yrs. so loved your low-glycemic creamed cauliflower replacement for the glucose blast of risotto. I happened to make my first ever risotto several days ago, and it is takes time and attention, that\’s for sure. I was happy with it; the flavor of the several ounces of marrow called for in the recipe and scooped from the center of the grass-fed beef bones in my stockpot was discernible and satisfying. I also used lard in that recipe instead of butter. Would both the marrow and the lard be traditional in risotto, Anna?

    Today, I rediscovered my tattered, stained and coverless Moosewood Cookbook. Mollie Katzen\’s excellent soup recipes were among my first creations in an organic kitchen. Her pantry ingredients must have sub-conciously imprinted my food shopping habits these past decades because I discovered everything in my own pantry that I needed for many of her recipes. These days, I mostly I use cookbooks for inspiration and for ingredient ratios.

    In the WWOF recipe section, I\’ll soon post how I made the soup we had for dinner tonight. I hope folks will not be disappointed if they find it interesting enough to try. And let us know how it came out, too.

  4. Diane Vigil

    What a wonderful conversation. By the way, there’s no need to escape out (that is, use the \) for quotes and apostrophes.

  5. Joe Lovshe

    It is very scarey to think but there is a partner in the entitlement of ethanol. GM ‘s sudden stewardship of the environment is simply a way to continue to make gas guzzlers thanks to E85 an extremely inefficient fuel. The CAFE standards call for all car companies to achieve an average MPG for all vehicles. I believe the most recent number is 27 MPG. Well if you make the biggest money off of 10 miles per gallon SUV’s you would hate to say good bye to them wouldn’t you?
    The CAFE standards has a loophole, that being that an E85 vehicle operating on E85 miles per gallon are ONLY figured against the actual amount of gasoline in the blend (15%) if you divide 100% fuel by 15% gasoline you get the multiplier to the mpg (666) therefore a gas guzzling 10 MPG SUV is given credit for 66.6 MPG. If you sell one SUV like this you can have 5 vehicles only achieving 20 MPG and this gas guzzling SUV and you average more than 27 MPG overall while not one of their vehicles really met the standard.
    GM is not the only one taking advantage of this free ride Ford and Chrysler are too. The big three are heading down the toilet and this is just their hands clinging to the rim.

  6. Diane Vigil

    Hi, Joe. Yes, I do believe you’re right. Unfortunately, they do not seem to be thinking this through well — but the recent astronomic rises in the cost of gas may have made people think twice about buying from them.

    And welcome to We Want Organic Food!

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