I say the plant world’s success story because it is no longer clear that corn’s triumph is such a boon to the rest of the world.At its most basic, the story of life on earth is the competition among species to capture and store as much energy as possible–either directly from the sun, in the case of plants, or, in the case of animals, by eating plants and plant eaters.Thank so much for your patience and for being part of our movement for good.Don’t let this hiccup stop you from making change in your community!
All life depends on nitrogen; it is the building block from which nature assembles amino acids, proteins and nucleic acid; the genetic information that orders and perpetuates life is written in nitrogen ink.
For an American like me, growing up linked to a very different food chain, yet one that is also rooted in corn, not to think of himself as a corn person suggests either a failure of imagination or a triumph of capitalism. For the great edifice of variety and choice that is an American supermarket rests on a remarkably narrow biological foundation: corn.
It’s not merely the feed that the steers and the chickens and the pigs and the turkeys ate; it’s not just the source of the flour and the oil and the leavenings, the glycerides and coloring in the processed foods; it’s not just sweetening the soft drinks or lending a shine to the magazine cover over by the checkout.
The energy is stored in the form of carbon molecules and measured in calories: the calories we eat, whether in an ear of corn or a steak, represent packets of energy once captured by a plant.
Few plants can manufacture quite as much organic matter (and calories) from the same quantities of sunlight and water and basic elements as corn.
As the Indian farmer activist Vandana Shiva says in her speeches, “We’re still eating the leftovers of World War II.” F1 hybrid corn is the greediest of plants, consuming more fertilizer than any other crop.