Cauldron to Kitchen

Paganism, food and spirituality

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Beyond Global Warming

The mid-west is in a drought. Crops are dying and wildfires are flaring all across the Midwest. In this post, I will focus on the loss of crops. The primary crops for the Midwest are corn and soybeans. This year, corn planting is at an all time high at 96.4 million acres. Almost none of it is sweet corn. The vast majority is commodity corn, which will become feed for pigs and cattle, be used for the production of corn by-products, or to produce ethanol. None of these uses improve human or planetary health or well-being. In addition, between 85 and 95 percent of the corn planted in the afflicted states is GMO.* Corn is – by necessity - almost always rotated with soybeans. Over 90 percent of all soybeans are GMO.

How absurd that we tear up native prairie grasses to grow corn or soybeans to feed cattle. Such grasses are far more resistant to heat and drought conditions. Their roots, extending 15 feet below the soil line, literally raise the water table. As I have written in other posts, cattle are not designed to eat grain, and it is bad for their health and ours. They are designed to eat grass. In a wet year, such grasses also improve the soil’s ability to hold water. This reduces both flooding and erosion.

Rotational strip-grazing of cattle instead of commodity cropping would necessarily change how the market works. Cattle and pigs are finished in factory farms and fed corn and soy feeds for the convenience of the processors. The deplorable conditions that these animals endure, which are problem for any Pagan for which relationship matters, are a function public demand.

The fact that we use corn to produce ethanol is both economically and environmentally insane, and is another reason why I am and angry and disappointed with the environmental movement.

We do not need to blame global warming for the suffering of the mid-west farmers. In 1934, temperatures were also over 100 degrees, and rainfall was low. These conditions lead to the Dust bowl, a human - made environmental disaster of vast scale. It is established that farming methods – methods which have only changed for the worse – were a major contributor to that event.

I am not a farmer and do not live in the mid-west. As such, it is hard not to be overwhelmed with the impossibility of helping to create any kind of change. I do not think legislation would be of any use, because legislation helped get us here in the first place. Government subsidies for corn and soybeans helped create this problem.

What I can do is write and talk. I eat beef that dined, not on corn or soybeans, but on pastures. These animals lived within 80 miles of my home and were processed within the same range. Recently I found a producer that lives right in the next town and my next beef purchase will be from her and her husband. But I don’t buy the whole cow by myself. If I want to eat this way, I have to convince others of the benefits, and I do that by writing and talking. Lately, I notice more of my Pagan (and non-Pagan) friends are interested in eating in this way that supports both health, and the environment. Dear reader, I hope to convince you as well.

*Stats downloaded from the USDA

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Tagged in: environment farming food
Selina Rifkin, L.M.T., M.S. is a graduate of Temple University and holds a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology. In 1998 she graduated from the Downeast School of Massage in Maine. She has published articles in Massage Therapy Journal, been a health columnist, and published The Referral Guide for Complementary Care, a book that describes 25 different healing modalities. In 2006 she completed her Masters program in Nutrition with a focus on traditional foods, and the work of Weston A. Price.
Currently she is the Executive Assistant to the Director of Cherry Hill Seminary, the first Pagan seminary to offer Master’s degrees.


  • Hunter Liguore
    Hunter Liguore Monday, 30 July 2012

    Information is the key. Talking about it. Dispelling myths. I just finished watching "Forks Over Knives." It was astonishing to see how marketing spreads wrong information to an entire culture. Many of the points you make have become mainstream ideas with little foundation. Great post.

  • Anne Newkirk Niven
    Anne Newkirk Niven Monday, 30 July 2012

    GREAT POST. We are planning our first locally-grass fed beef purchase this fall. We are sharing with a neighbor (and possibly my siblings) to make the purchase economically possible.

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