And that happened this morning, when in an online dialogue, a farming friend popped in, talking about his trip to DC for the "Corn Congress."
"What's a 'Corn Congress'?" I asked, never having heard the term.
To which another friend promptly chimed in that "Corn Congress" is a meeting in Washington DC of corn growers, members of the National Corn Growers Association and particularly those focused on "commercial corn."
Sounded powerful, to me.
Since I wasn't entirely sure how they defined "commercial corn," I asked another question.
To which came the quick reply that 99.3% of the corn grown in our country is called "commercial corn" and is used for a string of alliterations, including convenience foods, colas, cows and car fuel. Only 0.7% of the corn we grow is "veggie corn", the sweet corn eaten as a veggie by humans.
Who knew? (OK, besides Michael Pollan). But I found those statistics fascinating, especially in light of the food and ethanol subsidies used to support the growing of these crops. Corn subsidies in the United States, financed by taxpayer resources, totaled $77.1 billion from 1995-2010.
Corn has earned the title "cash crop"for a reason, it appears, and as it is traded on the Chicago Board of Trade and bundled into derivative trades on the Goldman Sachs Commodity Index, you can't help but wonder if Big Ag is the fuel that will rival Big Oil.
It is certainly food for thought.