From Iowa to the world, Real Food Reads author Timothy Wise muses on the genesis of industrial agriculture in Eating Tomorrow.
In the beginning—1926—Agribusiness created corn, or so it proclaimed. It hadn’t, of course: 7,000 years earlier, the Mesoamerican gods had beaten them to it. What Agribusiness actually created thousands of years later was hybrid corn, and it declared that hybrid corn was the only corn that mattered. And Agribusiness saw that it produced a lot and, most important, farmers had to buy it every year. And it was good, for Agribusiness.
On the second day, Agribusiness separated the land from the water, expanding drainage tiles under millions of acres of farm-belt swampland. And the land was good, especially for long straight rows of hybrid corn.
On the third day, with way too much corn, Agribusiness created pigs and commercial feed made up of corn and soybeans. Agribusiness saw that more corn and soybeans were good, and that meat was even better, because it took five (or even ten) pounds of grain to create a pound of meat…
This piece is an abridged excerpt from the book Eating Tomorrow: Agribusiness, Family Farmers, and the Battle for the Future of Food by Real Food Reads featured author Timothy A. Wise. Listen to our conversation with Tim on the Real Food Reads podcast.