Buying Local Honey (And Using More of It)
I've been paying close attention to the foods we eat around here. I feel great when I feed my family locally-grown, organic fruits and veggies. I don't feel so great when they grab some Hello Kitty Froot Snax or commercially prepared granola bars - both of which are made with the ubiquitous American food additive - corn syrup.
The overproduction of corn in America has been getting a lot of press lately. From farm subsidies to ethanol, from corn syrup to corn feed. It seems like everything these days is made from corn. This overproduction of a single crop can have a detrimental effect not just here in America, but across the globe. Here are a few reasons why:
Any farmer worth his salt will tell you that crop rotation is an important factor in keeping the ground fertile. Due to the great demand created for corn products, many industrial farms no longer practice crop rotation - they simply grow corn every year. Repeatedly planting these corn crops in the same spot will suck the same nutrients out of the soil each growing season, leaving behind depleted soil. Not only that, but the same crop will attract the same pests year after year after year. This depleted soil will require lots of chemical fertilizers and the bugs will require pesticides. And neither of those are good for the planet.
Also, the huge increase in demand for corn - for everything from food additives, to feed for cattle and pigs, to ethanol for bio fuels - means an increase in the price of grains worldwide. Grains, if you remember your from gradeschool, are the base of the food pyramid and make up the bulk of a decent diet. An increase in the price of grains could have a terrible affect on poverty stricken nations whose people will no longer be able to afford these food basics.
And if that doesn't sway you, how about the fact that it's contributing to the obesity crisis here in America. According to an article at Grist:
Cheap corn, underwritten by the [Farm Bill's] subsidy program, has changed the diet of every American. It has allowed a few corporations -- including Archer Daniels Midland, the world's largest grain processor -- to create a booming market for high-fructose corn syrup. HFCS now accounts for nearly half of the caloric sweeteners added to processed food, and is the sole caloric sweetener for mass-market soft drinks. Between 1975 and 1997, per-capita consumption jumped from virtually nothing to 60.4 pounds per year -- equal to about 200 calories per person, per day. Consumption has generally hovered around that level since.
So basically, it's also making us all fat. Ok, fat-ter. 200 calories per day fatter, to be specific.Plus, it's just a little freaky. I mean, have you read Omnivore's Dilemma? Have you seen King Corn? Yeah me neither, but they're on my to-do list. And I've heard a lot about them. From what folks are saying, both the book and the movie imply that corn is damn near impossible to avoid in our pre-packaged foodstuffs society. I don't like that. It's like a cheap filler that's used for the sole purpose of keeping the ingredient count up.
And did you know that there is some evidence to suggest that eating local honey will help to minimize seasonal allergies? I've got two kids who live on on Zyrtec six months out of the year, so that is a HUGE bonus!
And so, in an attempt to avoid some corn syrup, I'm going on a honey kick. For both me and the kids. I've been using it on my oatmeal in the morning and I made a batch of granola bars for the kiddos last month. I prefer honey to other sweeteners because I can easily find local sources, they're all bottled in glass and it's yumm-o-riffic . Win/Win/Win. Plus? Honey Butter. 'Nuff said.
Well now that I've got this wild corn hair up my ass, expect to see more posts from me on other ways to avoid corn derivatives. In the meantime, go grab a little honey (take that however you want to).