Summary of Industrial – Corn

Part I: Industrial – Corn

Overall Chapter 1-7 Summary

In this first chapter of Omnivore’s Dilemma by Michael Pollan, we are first introduced to the topic of industrial corn and its origins some thousands of years ago. Originally known as “Zea Mays”, corn started off slow in biological terms but blew up after the discovery of Christopher Columbus. Now that there was corn the settlers were free from the Natives and could now support themselves on the agriculture of corn. Its existence did not just set off a new way of life for settlers but provided to be a basis of revolution providing that we as a civilization in the time of the Corn Walkers could settle down and start a new form of life. Now in modern times we have created new types of corns to feed humans and animals but also to create over 25000 products in supermarkets today.

Chapter 1 – The Plant: Corn’s Conquest, p. 15

Pollan mentions right from the get go the differences between American and Mexican diets. Stating that the Mexican diet is that of a corn-based nature, where as Americans are on the other side of the spectrum eating more meats than anything. In truth it’s the opposite, it’s the Americans that are eating more corn. It all comes down to the way we feed our animals and process our foods. Americans feed their live stock with corn, and pump corn-based products into readily available food. Where as Mexicans although they eat a wide variety of corn and grains still feed their animals with grass and sweeten with sugar cane versus corn-based sweeteners. So the Americans really do beat out the “Corn walkers”, I guess you could say they’re walking corn from the high levels of corn consumption.

Chapter 2 – The Farm, p. 32

Pollan visits a  small farmer in Iowa owned by George Naylor. Most of the 470 acre farm is used to grow corn, to ensure a high yield rate for the season. While at the farm Pollan sets out to understand the mysteries of the Industrial Corn world and to get an in depth look at the life of a farmer’s life after corn surpluses have been put in.

Chapter 3 – The Elevator, p. 57

Pollan visits the great grain elevator not far from the Naylor farm in Iowa. He goes in-depth with the Governments fundings and the living of a farmer on the subsidies.

Chapter 4 – The Feedlot: Making Meat, p. 65

In this Chapter Pollan pays a visit to Poky Feeders factory cattle farm in Kansas. Where he purchases a baby calf for $598 in South Dakota. Where he takes it to the feed lot to see where the link to out dinner plate really begins. 60% of corn being grow ever season goes to feed livestock at a Concentrated Animal Feeding Operation or otherwise known as a feed lot. While being fed Corn, the life span of the animal is being cut in half because of the different diet being given and the demand for the animal.Cattle were living off grass and are now being corn-fed for 150 days (5 months). While these animals are being fed corn against their nature, they are getting very sick. Sick enough to need medication such as antibiotics and those such medications are being transferred to humans as they are being consumed. How is that for food for though?

Chapter 5 – The Processing Plant: Making Complex Foods, p. 85

Each year 10 billion bushels of corn are harvested. Of the 10 million bushels are large portion of it goes into making industrial food and the chemicals and by products it needs to survive. Corn is a cheap solution and a growing problem. The cheaper corn gets the more it is used and the more there is excuss to use it whether it be for live stock or food production.

Chapter 6 – The Consumer: A Republic of Fat, p. 100

The processed foods that we are creating and consuming are having a very poor impact on the health of Americans. With the obesity rate at 60% in adults and the rate of diabetes and cardiac issues on the rise we should be looking at what we are eating and where it is coming from. Not how cheap or comforting it is.

Chapter 7 – The Meal: Fast Food, p. 109

With the cost of organic food more than processed the obvious go to choice for most Americans is the bad one. Fast food is not only cheap but its convinant and can be consumed anywhere, anytime. It’s easy to get that BigMac combo instead of the salad because it’s not only easy to get but cheap. Pay a dollar and receive 1,200 if not more. Eat up, or read up that what this book has done for me.