Hi my friends!
How is everyone? I hope everyone is enjoying their week. I got an exciting text from John Givens this morning telling me he finally has TOMATOES. Yayy! When we have tomatoes, I say it’s officially summer, even if it’s almost rainy outside. Look for those on next week’s add ons. They might even come in your farm box!!
As maybe some of you may now by now, I am obsessed with corn. I have fond childhood memmories harvesting corn from my dad’s field (tom shepherd,) taking it home and starting a bbq, then roasting some for ourselves while shucking the rest of it for farmers market the next day. My job was to keep an eye out for any worms. If we got lucky, we’d only have to cut an inch or so off the tip of the corn. And for a lot of it, we’d have to toss the entire ear. Tom wasn’t too stoked on his corn season but that didn’t keep us from having laughs, eating warm toasted corn together, and making a happy mess around our feet.
Caterpillars love corn. Maybe even more than I love corn. Because of this, science has developed an incredibly creative way to discourage these caterpillars from eating their corn. They have imbedded a toxic, gram positive bacterium into the DNA of the corn itself. Bacillus Thurigiensis(BT) is a bacteria that is found naturally in soil that causes the stomachs to explode of caterpillar type insects. While BT is found naturally, and is basically safe in its natural forms, it was never found as part of a plant composition that humans ate. There are many independent studies linking BT to one of the common, catch phrase ailments that we are hearing so much of these days: "leaky gut". Beyond this, there are numerous studies showing that Genetically Modified(GM) Bacillus Thurigiensis(BT) foods when eaten by a pregnant mother will cause BT to persist through the mother and into the newborn child. BT is proving to be persistent and is only just beginning to be understood for long term human consequences when ingested as a GM food. There are also studies beginning to link "leaky gut" to a variety of cancers.
While this scientific approach has been extremely effective in yielding caterpillar free corn, and while it may seem insanely magical to a dirty, overworked farmer to be able to drive around in a huge air-conditioned tractor listening to country music while farming 1000 acres of corn free of weeds, free of caterpillars, and free of physical labor, we are just beginning to see the flip side reality of these "Round-up ready BT Corn" varieties. "Round-Up" ready is the synonym for the other aspect of these GM corn crops that make them so enticing to farmers. Not only, is the corn crop modified to resist caterpillar type pests with BT, but it is also modified to withstand heavy applications of the weed-killer glyphosate. This allows farmers, to weed their fields with a sprayer, from a tractor, rather than with the labor of humans. While this sounds appealing, the magic of "Round-Up" is also losing it's luster as time and reality catch up with it. Currently, there is a huge, class action lawsuit linking "Round-Up" application to Non-Hodgkins Lymphoma. Also, the International Agency for Research on Cancer(World Health Organization) has recently classified Glyphosate(the active ingredient in Round-Up) as a Class 2A Carcinogen.
According to recent data, 94% of the 92 million acres of U.S. grown corn is genetically modified with the BT gene and a resistance to the herbicide Glyphosate. The majority of this corn is grown for bio-fuel, food stocks, and processed food ingredients. Recent data shows that the fresh sweet corn that we love to eat is nearing 60% Genetically Modified. Unfortunately, each year this number is rising as more Genetically Modified sweet corn is being planted in this country.
Ok, that's a lot of data. Here's the bottom line. While it's a fantasy of all farmers to have clean, weed free crops, it is not a fantasy of humans to eat plants coated in poisons and definitely not a fantasy to eat plants that create their own poisons. There was a reason why we did not eat BT naturally, and there is a reason why Glyphosate is effective at killing weeds. Unfortunately, the majority of the corn products we find in the markets, on the shelves, and as fresh produce will have been grown hand-in-hand with these two ingredients.
With this said, there is also a reason why Organic Corn is super expensive and has caterpillars in it. It is not easy to grow, the plants get big, yield very few ears per stalk, are coveted by pests, and need to be weeded regularly. This all equates to a lot of work, and a lot of labor. Organic corn farmers are not hanging out in combines listening to Taylor Swift and Jason Aldene, they are out sweating in the hot summer sun. It is this sweat, this human labor that we are paying for. Our money is the way we show them that we value them, just as they value our health. So, show your Organic Corn growers some love, pay them what they're worth, and do everything you can to avoid giving any money to the chemical companies that know exactly what their products are doing to us, yet continue to push them on us. Organic will prevail if we refuse to pay for the other.