This spring, two striking things happened in the United States: one on land, the other at sea.
On land, farmers planted a record area of soybeans—almost 2.5 million hectares (about the size of Maryland)—and a near record of over 36 million hectares (approximately the equivalent of three Mississippis) of corn. That new production was supported by US $25-billion in farm subsidies—also close to an all-time high—that covered everything from crop insurance to debt relief and enabled farmers to till more land for, yes, more corn and soy. Because of all this, the top five calorie sources in the American diet are a mélange of processed treats sweetened by high-fructose corn syrup and corn-fed meats. Soy oil is used in 75 percent of all American processed food, and corn, as either an additive or a substrate, is equally omnipresent. Collectively, this makes for a diet extremely high in what are known as omega-6 fatty acids—polyunsaturated fats that some nutritionists believe can play a critical role in causing many of the so-called “Western” diseases.
Photo: David Merrett/Wikimedia Commons (CC BY 2.0)
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