Digest: Food vs. fuel, Midwest movement, cow exodus, local beer

Des Moines Register: A rather terrifying article about the ethanol industry’s insatiable demand for corn, which is leading farmers to forgo the soybean rotation that returns much-needed nitrogen to the soil, meat producers to feed as much leftover “distiller’s grain” as animals can tolerate, and everybody to rely more  on genetically modified strains. [Corn Maven says: Corn stalks will be harvested along with the grain, rather than left in the field to break down, which means less organic matter will return to the soil. Combined with forgoing soybean rotation, this will undoubtedly spell disaster and roll back any gains that have been made in soil conservation in Iowa since the 1970s.]

Kansas City Star*: If you’re interested in the remarkable amount of traction the eat-local movement is getting in the Midwest, take the time to endure the Star’s tedious registration process so you can read this fourth installment in an excellent series on local food. In this one, Jill Wendholt Silva looks at how small Kansas growers have managed to get in the back door of supermarkets and specialty grocers. Sidebars: a Thanksgiving locavore, born-again carnivore, and farmer-turned-marketer.

Marin Independent Journal: With the sale of the Giacomini farm’s entire milking herd, Pt. Reyes Station has lost its last remaining dairy. It’s a bittersweet loss, as the Park Service will return the land to its natural state as a coastal marsh, but it underscores PTS’s ongoing transformation from working cow-town to a tourist destination.

Gristmill: Tom Philpott has a short but helpful entry on finding local beer for your Thanksgiving feast.

Austin Statesman: An op-ed by a turkey-buying vegetarian urges carnivores to eat responsibly.

Illinois Journal Register: More cattle producers in Illinois are getting into grass-fed beef — including Teddy Gentry, guitarist for country megaband Alabama (!) — but this writer doesn’t seem to be buying it. Lots of quotes from corn-feeders about how grass-fed beef is “stringy” and “gamy,” plus a livestock specialist tells the reporter that “Good pasture is excellent protein, but the energy is limiting — the calories. It’s like eating salad every day vs. potatoes and corn and meat.” Um, aren’t cattle ruminants, designed specifically to live on grass?

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