Substance Abuse

Porky Patron Spoiler Alert: If you lick your fingers clean following a supersized meal and opt for the low cal dessert offering perhaps you’d best waddle off to the corpulent corner this week.

 

Across the globe (7.4 billion people and counting) one person in seven goes to bed hungry. Yet here in the USA the obesity rate among adults is approaching 40%. Here’s another dietary tidbit that’ll make your eyes bug out. One third of all the food produced for human consumption goes to waste! Some of it gets scraped into the garbage disposal, some of it goes bad, some of it’s flat out vaporized during processing. Mash all those stats together and it’s obvious to even the untrained observer that we could fix the hunger problem if we didn’t let food go to waste (or let the excess food go to our American waists!) On the other hand many of us in polite society would rather throw food out than pass half-eaten leftovers on to our less fortunate brethren. Germs you know. We’re more squeamish about germs than we are about an epidemic of famine.

 

But it’s not just about waste, it’s also about redefining how specific food products are used. Take corn for example. Corn is not only a mighty fine veggie (okay, technically corn is botanically classified as a grain but you get the idea!), it’s big business. In 2014 the US produced 36% of the corn grown on the planet. Um, not all of that corn went toward feeding human bellies, even indirectly. 40% of the corn crop was used in the biofuel industry. Still that’s a heap of eating corn. Well, nope. Another 36% of the corn went to feed furry farm animals, many of whom were eventually served up as tasty dinner dishes, to be sure. But since corn itself is inefficiently processed by the animals (some say the efficiency ratio of converting corn calories to meat and dairy calories varies from 3% to 40% ) we don’t get nearly as much bang for the nutritional buck as we would by just eating the corn.

 

And let’s take a peek at how well the corn-based ethanol revolution is doing. Congress adopted the Renewable Fuel Standard in 2005 with a target fuel blend of 10% Ethanol/90% gasoline. It was intended to reduce Greenhouse Gas Emissions and reduce American dependency on Big Oil. Here’s what really happened. It turns out that Ethanol exhaust produces twice as much ozone as gasoline. Cars get half as many miles per gallon with straight Ethanol fuel as they do with gasoline. Ethanol fuels don’t work well in cold weather. In short Ethanol as a motor fuel sucks. But the government is redoubling its efforts to make Ethanol the new King of the Road, shooting now for a 15% Ethanol/85% gasoline blend which will royally mess up most of the cars on the road today that simply won’t run on E15 fuel. And that’ll do the trick. Because a car that doesn’t run will undeniably produce fewer hydrocarbons than a car that does. How can you argue with that?

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