Jump to content
  • Welcome to the eG Forums, a service of the eGullet Society for Culinary Arts & Letters. The Society is a 501(c)3 not-for-profit organization dedicated to the advancement of the culinary arts. These advertising-free forums are provided free of charge through donations from Society members. Anyone may read the forums, but to post you must create a free account.

food for fuel...is this ethical?


JEL
 Share

Recommended Posts

can we as a nation justify the use of grain as fuel for our suv's when there are so many hungry people here and around the world....

say goodbye to this nations long standing cheap food policy....

i've been in animal agriculture all my life and it is a very scary situation at the moment....

Link to comment
Share on other sites

We're producing way too much grain already. Wouldn't you rather put it in your tank than as high fructose corn syrup in your stomach? It's not like we'd be burning it instead of feeding it to poor people. The only thing I'd be concerned about is if some bozos decided we need to plant even more countless acres of corn and soy.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

high grain prices bring even more acres into production....

animal agriculture bears the brunt of the storm when feed costs are almost doubled....

it doesn't show up at the grocery store until the animal inventory is liquidated.....

when people start paying $8 a gallon for milk, they'll want to rethink their previous stance on bio fuels......

Link to comment
Share on other sites

We're producing way too much grain already.  Wouldn't you rather put it in your tank than as high fructose corn syrup in your stomach?  It's not like we'd be burning it instead of feeding it to poor people.  The only thing I'd be concerned about is if some bozos decided we need to plant even more countless acres of corn and soy.

We don't live in a vacuum. It's easy to think only in terms of the US, but since much of the world's population of "poor people" depends upon cheap corn to eat - think tortillas in Mexico for example - when the price of corn skyrockets, it doesn't affect only us. It's a world commodity.

Not to mention that corn doesn't grow and turn into fuel by itself. It requires fossil fuels to do that. And lots of it.

Like most supposedly "great ideas," there are often unforeseen consequences down the road.

So to speak.

Edited by Jaymes (log)

I don't understand why rappers have to hunch over while they stomp around the stage hollering.  It hurts my back to watch them. On the other hand, I've been thinking that perhaps I should start a rap group here at the Old Folks' Home.  Most of us already walk like that.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I think there are better ideas--from what I've heard, other organic materials can be used for fuel, so why corn? My only point was that I'd be all for taking the corn products out of our food. I don't think the answer lies with just one solution, anyway--that's the kind of black and white thinking that got us into our current mess.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Thursday, October 25, 2007

UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food to call for a 5-year moratorium on first generation liquid biofuels

source

This guys solution appears to be not using grain but using food crop byproduct to produce bio fuels. Makes sense to me.

Bio Fuels are really only economical to produce in the US and EU because of farm subsidies. Elsewhere they they make economic sense because those people can't afford oil.

Other sources I've heard of recently would be some kind of algae and some drought resistant plant called jatropha.

I think the problem in the US is ethanol. Right now it's part of some program to combat global warming. So right now it's just a fuel additive. You think a loaf of bread costs a lot now wait till they start fueling cars with it.

The best example of Bio Fuels use would be Brazil. Practically their entire sugar production goes for ethanol. They stopped exporting sugar and the price doubled.

They are also developing Bio Diesel from soybeans. When that stuff burns it smells like popcorn. I think that alone would be a good enough reason not to use it.

"And in the meantime, listen to your appetite and play with your food."

Alton Brown, Good Eats

Link to comment
Share on other sites

The corn and soybeans being used for bio-fuels are primarily feed grains for cows and pigs.

Having grown up in the middle of Iowa, there is a BIG difference between sweet corn and feed corn. I wouldn't eat the feed corn, or feed it to anyone.

While we can't feed people with what is being used to create bio-fuels, it does raise the cost of feed for beef and pork producers.

And then theres the whole thing about it taking more energy to create a gallon of bio-fuel than created by burning it.

Bio-fuel is not the miracle cure it is purported to be.

We just need to use less fuel.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

There are a ton of problems with biofuels in the U.S. (Tthe Brazilians are doing much better with their sugar cane as the conversion process is much more efficient. Unfortunately, tariffs and import restrictions prevent the Brazilians from exporting substantial quantities of the cane or the ethanol to the U.S., the prodecting profits for Big Sugar and Archer Daniels Midland).

My personal pet peeve is that many more acres of corn are going into production, leading to increased erosion and groundwater pollution, both of which have tremendous potential to do long term damage.

Of course we "can't" feed people with grain destined for bio-fuels, but that acreage could certainly be taken out of production or planted with something more human-friendly, whether it be Silver Queen corn or some other crop entirely.

The idea that it takes more energy to create a gallon of biofuel than the ethanol yields is hotly disputed. Advocates claim that a a gallon of corn-based ethanol generates approximately 50 percent more energy than it takes to produce. The next generation of ethanol -- assuming a way can be found to produce "cellulosic ethanol" from farm wastes, fast-growing grasses and so one economically -will yield 80% more energy than it consumes. A further consideration is that since the energy inputs are not all in the form of oil, a gallon of ethanol replaces six to seven gallons of imported oil, which has significant economic and national security benefits.

Very complicated issue, and one that will not be resolved rationally as long as the Iowa caucuses loom large in the presidential selection process. My view is that we should continue experimenting with the idea of biofuels, but with an eye towards learning how to produce and deliver cellulosic ethanol, so that we can use our corn for food (and the stalks for energy).

I'm on the pavement

Thinking about the government.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Thinking outside the box I'd like to see the Entertainment Industry make an effort to make pedal power cool. I remember after the movie "Breaking Away" all of a sudden everybody wanted a bike.

We need the next "Get Shorty" movie have John Travolta being reduced to using a bike.

"And in the meantime, listen to your appetite and play with your food."

Alton Brown, Good Eats

Link to comment
Share on other sites

http://www.ontariocorn.org/classroom/produ...at%20use%20Corn

corn is used for everything......it's not sweet corn or popcorn....

crop residues are unsustainable as fuel, as they are critical to the quality of the soil, errosion prevention, h2o quality etc...

the problem with using switchgrass is that it takes so many more acres to generate an equal amount of fuel, plus you have the additional costs involved in harvesting the crop several times a year rather than once.

now you have all the issues for the dried distillers grains produced by the ethanol plant. great cattle feed, but they're too high in moisture to transport for any distance. dry them? uses even more energy. the next problem is that all the cattle are too far away from the ethanol plants. the large commercial feedlots are mostly in the high plans not the corn belt...

also, the "ddg's" make a decent addition to hog diets, but at too high of an inclusion cause a problem with soft bellies at the packing plants....

these are some of my thoughts after reading comments made so far, i have spent my life in agriculture, these are things that many farmers and stockmen think about....

regards, to all, please let's hear more.....

Link to comment
Share on other sites

In some ways, I think, the question of where to obtain biofuels is premature. We have no business talking about where our fuels will come from until we have made an honest reckoning of how much fuel we actually need. And the fact is, we must learn to need much less than we currently use, and, accordingly, much less than we've come to think we need. It is just as easy to waste biofuels as to waste fossil fuels, and we're irresponsible for doing either. Discussions like this often take as their starting point the notion of a simple one-to-one shift in technology, as in, "Where can we find a gallon of bio- (nuclear, solar, wind, whatever) fuel to replace each gallon of gas we use?" But if overuse of fossil fuel is unsustainable in a finite system like planet Earth, so is the overuse of alternative fuels, and I don't think we've gotten it into our heads yet just how much we've spoiled ourselves by making way too many things way too easy.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Lets say we have a poor person living on $1000 a year and a rich person living on $1,000,000 a year.

The real problem is how much more acreage in food does a rich person eat compared to a poor person? They maybe eat quite a bit more meat, maybe eats some more relatively calorically worthless fruits and vegetables, and probably buy organic or other low yield crops, lets call it 10x more for the sake of the argument.

How much more fuel does a rich person consume? Even a middle class American is going to be travelling significantly in their cars not to mention plane flights as well as buying globalised goods and energy hungry consumer goods. A rich person could easily consume 100 - 500x the amount of fuel compared to a poor person.

So far this hasn't been too much of a problem because the two systems were decoupled. By and large, we could feed the world because a rich person just isn't physically capable of consuming 100x the food resources of a poor person. But what happens when the two systems become coupled?

At what oil price is this rich person going to stop driving to work or going on holidays or buying cherries from Chile? $5 a gallon? $20 a gallon? even a 10 times increase in price is still not going to significantly affect his lifestyle. Now what happens to the poor person when the price of bread rises from $1 a loaf to $5 a loaf? The poor person's $5 loaf is in direct competition with the rich person's $5000 plane ticket. Who do you think can afford to not blink and ante up?

Previously, the world has by and large worked because we never had to deal with such a question because we've managed to keep the two systems decoupled. Now that they're becoming coupled, we're going to have to face up to this and figure out just where our priorities lie.

This entire thing reminds me of whole 3rd world phamaceutical issue. Drug companies price drugs far outside the economic reach of 3rd world countries, not because they're evil, but because it's impossible to decouple the 3rd world market from the 1st world market and any cheap drugs are just going to get smuggled and sold on the black market. So you have poor 3rd world patients who are priced out of the market because of the radical inequity in wealth. We can by and large ignore the issue because it's been with us for so long it's the status quo but what happens when the same thing happens to food that happened to drugs? I don't think it's something we'll be able to ignore.

Edited by Shalmanese (log)

PS: I am a guy.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

 Share

×
×
  • Create New...