FOOD: IMPROVING THE SITUATION
Staple Foods: Rice, Wheat and Corn. • Rice • main staple food for half of the world – Asia • needs lots of water – actually grown under water in rice patties • 120 days growing season • needs high temperature and rich soils (grown near rivers – alluvial deposits) • very labour intensive
Wheat • Western World and Europe • tougher plant – can be grown in a variety of areas • needs less water than rice • shorter growing season (winter and spring wheat) • Extensive farming – highly mechanized
Corn – (Maize) • a localized crop • very popular in North America – Natives – called it “maize” - “She Who Sustains Us” • Southern Ontario and Central U.S. • The single most important food product in the modern North American supermarket: • meat is largely derived from corn, as is milk and other diary products. (livestock and poultry are fed corn) • Note: as the developed world wants more meat, they’ll need more corn. • frozen meat and fish are coated with corn starch to avoid drying • all canned foods are in a liquid that is made from corn
almost all paper cartons and wrappings are coated with a corn based product • Corn oil – cooking oils, margarine, soap, salad dressing • Corn syrup – basis of candy, ketchup, ice cream, soft drinks, beer, gin and vodka. It prevents product decay and gives loose food body. • Corn starch – baby foods, jams and preserves, yeast, pet food, toothpaste, detergents, body powder. It is also found in salt and sugar (makes pouring easier) • The main varieties of corn are popcorn, sweet corn (which we eat), dent corn (has a dimple on each kernel), flint corn and corn flour. Dent corn is the most important for animal feed. Many old types used by the Natives are disappearing.
Corn cannot seed itself • needs large amounts of water and nutrients • irrigation and artificial fertilizer • corn grows fast and is easily hybridized (Green Revolution) • harvesting is highly mechanized – in fact the stem has been bred to be stiffer to support the ears • 500 million tonnes are grown every year – 50% in the U.S. corn belt. • Final Note: Huge amounts of corn are fed to livestock to fatten them up before market. This is done in large feedlot operations called “Intensive Livestock Operations” where thousands of animals are automatically fed corn. Manure is removed but in some cases pollution of ground water is inevitable – eg. Walkerton, Ontario.
With Corn Prices Rising, Meat Prices Are Likely to Follow By NAVEEN THUKRAL | REUTERS Published: July 30, 2012 SINGAPORE — As corn prices climb past the record levels they hit this time last year, a major factor has changed for Asian importers of the grain: Australia no longer has heaps of cheap feed wheat as a substitute. For a region that buys nearly half of the world’s traded corn, the 25 percent jump in prices since the start of June for the main animal feed ingredient means pork, chicken and beef will be more expensive by the end of the year. The worst U.S. drought since 1956 has pushed Chicago corn futures, the global benchmark, to a record above $8 a bushel, or $282 a liter. But what is really going to hurt feed makers, and eventually the rapidly growing ranks of Asian meat lovers, is the lack of alternatives. Asian buyers replaced seven million to eight million tons of corn last year with feed wheat, worth between $2 billion and $2.2 billion. This came mostly from Australia, but stocks there are running down quickly.