Last week I learned a little bit about ethanol. I noted then that corn is a very difficult crop to grow in terms of land and water resources. But there is another issue: Corn is a food staple for much of the world; if prices sky rocket, the foundation of many diets, largely in rural and less developed areas of the world could suffer enormously. According to a report from the International Monetary Fund corn prices have roughly doubled over the past two years. Corn is the third most important food crop in the world after wheat and rice.
In June, China banned the use of corn for ethanol production for exactly that reason.
The Washington Post reported in March:
In recent months, soaring corn prices, sparked by demand from ethanol plants, have doubled the price of tortillas, a staple food. Tens of thousands of Mexico City's poor recently protested this "ethanol tax" in the streets.
There's a cool little article on "How Stuff Works" that does the math to show you'd need to plant a half an acre of corn to drive your car from Los Angeles to New York. It's just kind of clever and funny, but it's also like that experiment of how many Oreos would I have to stack to get to the moon. It offers a visual for an otherwise intangible number.
I also learned that corn always has an even number of rows. Nature is so amazing. The way it harmonizes and creates and breathes.