The US is experiencing its worst drought since 1956. Altogether 63% of the lower US 48 states are experiencing a drought. As a result of this, the USDA has said that 50% of the US’s corn crop will be in poor to very poor condition.
What does this mean? That the US will have a very VERY low corn crop. This in of itself is bad. But when you consider that corn supplies are at their lowest levels in 17 years, you’ve got a recipe for a serious corn shortage.
Few people understand how large a part of the US industrial food chain is tied to corn.
Corn feeds the chickens, pigs, cows, turkeys, and lambs that are the primary sources of meat in the US. It also now feeds the most common fish in the US diet (catfish, tilapia, and salmon), all of which have been genetically engineered to eat the vegetable.
Corn feeds the chickens that provide us with eggs. It also feeds the cows that provide us with dairy products (butter, yogurt, milk, cheese). Even if you avoid milk and drink soda or beer, you’re still drinking corn in one form or another: virtually all sodas contain high fructose corn syrup, while the alcohol in beer is fermented from glucose that originated in corn.
Corn is in margarine, coffee sweetener, icing, gravy, hot sauce, mayonnaise, soups, cake mixes, snacks foods, salad dressings, frozen waffles, and on and on. If you eat produce in any form, it’s likely got corn in or on it: corn was in the pesticide, the cardboard in which it was shipped, even the wax applied to its surface to give it a sheen.
Step away from the food section in a supermarket and you’re still surrounded by corn. Corn is in toothpaste, disposable diapers, matches, trash bags, disposable batteries, make up, even magazines covers (again the sheen).
According to Michael Pollan, author of The Omnivore’s Dilemma, corn is in roughly 25% of all items located in your average grocery store. So a corn shortage means BIG TROUBLE for the US when it comes to food.
The situation is equally gloomy for soybeans, the second largest produced crop in the US: today inventories are at their lowest levels in 32 years. And the current drought has resulted in 39% of this year’s soybean crop being in poor to very poor condition.
What does this all mean? That we’re likely heading into a food crisis in the US regarding corn and soybeans.