mardi, juin 17, 2008

Iowa. Illinois. Missouri. Wisconsin. In all of those states this week, men, women and children are racing against the clock, hoping that the levees will not surrender to the relentless tide of the powerful Mississippi. Some have been fortunate. In others, houses and walkways and convenience stores have been given over to the river, until the waters recede.

I've been pondering how the forces shaping the climate in the Midwest may affect how the rest of us eat in the United States, and in those places where folks depend on what we grow.

At a dinner tonight with three friends we were talking about Michael Pollan's book The Omnivore's Dilemma. Pollan, who is a naturalist, and a wonderful writer (my mother would have loved his writing), traces, the origins of various meals in a way that must be distressing to anyone who values both good food and their health.

Much of our diet in the United States depends on the many incarnations businesses have found for corn-many of them quite bad for us. So much of the processed foods we eat are full of high fructose corn syrup. The floods in the Midwest are terrible for farmers who depend on sales of this commodity to buy new equipmnt or seed for the coming season. Developing nations who need our wheat are grappling with difficult times, too.

But the jury is still way out on what losing the summer corn in Iowa will mean to us when we buy our vegetables and cookies. What it means to those who produce ethanol and those who advocate alternative energy.

Possibly buying locally, and living within geographical boundaires, will no longer be a lifestyle option-it could morph into a neccesity.

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