Bad Drought? Start with the Soil.

The reason commodity crops are failing in the midwest is not the majority fault of the drought. Period.

Does the drought have some part to play in the massive crop failure occurring across the states at this present moment? Yes, of course. The imposition of unprecedented heat and lack of rainfall has effected plant health and viability.

Is climate change, as everyone is saying, playing a key role in the weather pattern? Yes, of course. Increasing climate volatility (as Bill McKibben’s latest article in Rolling Stones clearly articulates) may very well have something to do with this extraordinary hot-dry spell. Could we as a species have foreseen this imminent disaster and done something to avert it.?

Here’s the kicker: Yes.

Rainclouds_Tim_Axford

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Drought Warnings: Missing the Point

For the last ten days all eyes have been on the US corn belt, which has been experiencing a massive drought. Now, don’t get me wrong, drought is a big deal, it absolutely effects agricultural livelihoods and waterways, not to mention crops and animals that depend on water. This being said, the commentary that’s been raging on about drought bringing higher food prices like today’s piece in The Guardian, misses the point.

Will some types of food prices be affected? Yes. This drought will push up the price of chicken, pork, and beef- animals who, when industrially grown, are primarily fed on corn, the principle victim of the drought. The drought will also push up the price of corn oil and corn syrup, which, when chemically re-configured, are found in most processed food.

Corn_Symphony of the Soil

This is where commentators are failing to take the next step in their analysis. Which types of food prices are going to be affected by this drought? Animal products and processed foods.

The newspapers act as if Americans won’t be able to feed themselves without hamburger, sodas (rich in corn-syrup), and a bag of Cheetos. In times of crisis, the talk of the obesity scare and worries about diabetes go straight out the window.

Crisis like these are a one of the few times that we as a society have the chance to re-evaluate our nations’ agricultural priorities. What if The Guardian stopped shouting about the growing food crisis and started promoting alternatives? How about heading down to your local farmers’ market- which, for the most part won’t have been affected by the drought, and buying some carrots- which are probably better for animal health, your health, and the planet in the long run anyway.

-by Jessy Beckett