Monday, January 29, 2007



Perhaps even more than rice, corn is one of the most abundant, grown, used and abused agri-products on earth today.

It is estimated that an average so-called "meal" of a Big Mac, fries and a Coke accounts for an acre or more of corn growth and processing. The cow is fed corn and corn derivatives, the potatoes are fried in corn oil and the soft drink is largely corn syrup. Without corn, MacDonald's doesn't exist.
Now, in our continued obsession with the privacy and primacy of our SUV's and roadsters, with our terror of being beholden to the sheiks of Eastern Oil, we turn to "alternate fuels." High on the list is ethanol.
So far, so good. Very Suziki.
But then, enter the tortilla.
Today, we learn that the lowly tortilla, a staple of the Mexican diet for millions of people for lord knows how many hundreds or thoursands of years is under seige. This might be the stuff of sketch comedy were it not true and a disaster.
The price of tortillas in Mexico has doubled in less than a year. Try to imagine the price of our bread or milk or eggs taking the same leap. But even that analogy is not strong enough. Because, the minimum wage in Mexico is in the range of $5/day! Half the population of Mexico has never been accounted for as they are various ancient Indian tribes living in the mountains. Poverty, untabulated in rural areas and in your face in the cities, is commonplace.
Will the new administration of Mr. Calderon cap the price of corn? Will auto makers turn more boldly to alternate power that depends less on natural resources, whether found or grown? Will you and I step ever so unwillingly from our seperate music studios hurtling through space to more communal modes of transportation? Will local governments ever meet that need?