Web Letters | The Nation

Web Letter

In Alex Hoechsmann's webletter, he asks--perhaps only rhetorically--whether the solution to the high cost of milk might be for us to drink soy milk. Readers should be reminded that only limited amounts of soy may safely be consumed. and that it had better be organic and not bioengineered in order to survive corporate farming chemicals, to boot.

Deetje Boler

San Francisco, CA

Jul 30 2007 - 3:15am

Web Letter

I try to read every article I can on the production of alternative fuels from farm grown sources. I read your most recent one about why milk is so expensive. You have some of the data right and a lot of it totally wrong.

You rightly point out that milk is more expensive. How does that compare with the cost of CDs? Cell phones? I-pods? and all the other things our kids have?

American farmers are making more money growing corn and soybeans. You, however, think we should enrich Brazillian farmers. OK. I want you to send me a list of Brazillian political magazines I can subscribe to which are cheaper than yours.

And lastly, there is something that your magazine and all the other geniuses have not yet figured out and it is this: To date, not a single American soldier has died or been maimed guarding a corn field or soybean field. And the $1/2 trillion spent taking Iraqi oil from them is not even considered as a factor by you.

Corn for ethanol is a hell of a lot cheaper, the price of milk notwithstanding, than what you are burning in your car.

John Shipley

Albuquerque, MX

Jul 25 2007 - 4:58pm

Web Letter

Please read Michael Pollan's The Omnivore's Dilemma and learn about how unhealthy it is to feed corn to cows.

The premise that ethanol is our savoir is of course ill fated, but please don't make the mistake of believing that cows are supposed to be fed with corn.

It is, in fact, extremely unhealthy to feed ruminating animals corn, and causes disease and overuse of antibiotics in cows, while perpetuating the industrial farming model--as well as producing a potentially hazardous effect on humans who consume these cow products.

Look into industrial farming and you will find the link between corn, corn subsidies and all things wrong in our industrialized food system.

Justina Jeopardy

South Portland, ME

Jul 23 2007 - 6:58pm

Web Letter

Corn is produced with enormous amounts of petrochemical fertilizer. Not only does this mean continued dependence on oil but the runoff causes severe pollution of streams and rivers.

Cows should be fed grass, not corn. When fed corn, an unnatural diet for them, they need antibiotics. The overuse of antibiotics results in the evolution of superbugs for which we have no cures. Cows should graze on grass and not be kept in the confined factories where they are now.

Instead of a farm bill that subsidizes corn and results in the obesity epidemic among the poor who buy processed foods made of corn (high fructose corn syrup etc.), we need to subsidize grass-fed meat and organic vegetables. We need to support health, not agribusiness profits.

Jeff Anderson

Los Angeles, CA

Jul 23 2007 - 4:02pm

Web Letter

In the past, American farmers produced an excess of agricultural products, and they can probably produce enough corn or sugar cane for some ethanol and food products. How much ethanol is the question, and tainted food from overseas points to the need for safe, affordable American grown food products. Between some oil, oil shale, coal, and, possibly, nuclear energy, we can become energy independent, but at some cost to the environment and public safety. Hybrid and flex-fueled engines should become mandatory, and can reduce the amount of fuel needed. Whatever energy sources are used, we are looking at increased competition overseas for oil. We must follow Brazil to energy independence, and avoid the uncertainty of dependence on foreign energy sources.

Pervis J. Casey

Riverside, CA

Jul 23 2007 - 3:39pm

Web Letter

Let's not hop on the Brazilian ethanol bandwagon just yet. Bear in mind that one big reason the Amazon rain forest is in constant threat is because of agribusiness, which destroys large portions of rainforest to make way for farmland on which to grow--you guessed it--sugarcane to fuel our cars. What's more is that farmers in the region typically burn the sugarcane fields before harvest. The smoke that is then produced causes health problems via poor air quality.

It's important that we look for alternatives that are actually beneficial to the environment. Mr. Brigman (his letter is also posted) makes the excellent and often overlooked point that our dependence on the car is largely due to our urban planning and sprawling cities. Let's try to create environmentally friendly communities, not just low-emission cars.

Demetri Shosto

San Antonio, TX

Jul 23 2007 - 1:50pm

Web Letter

The real issue here isn't the fuel but the incredibly wasteful concept of the automobile itself. Without automobiles, Wal-Mart would be an impossibility, and land being used for parking lots could be used for agricultural production.

With efficient affordable public transportation, and sprawl-resistant development, students wouldn't have to waste valuable time working fast food jobs to pay for gasoline to feed a machine that is destroying our planet.

The private automobile is the most destructive element in human society. People say they need cars because everything is so far away, yet fail to recognize that the reason everything is so far away is because of the existence of the car itself.

It is time to move away from waste, and toward a more civilized way of living. The car must go.

William Brigman

Las Vegas, NV

Jul 21 2007 - 7:33pm

Web Letter

Isn't it a known fact that most of us are lactose intolerant after age 8 and often earlier, therefore, should not be drinking milk anyway? Isn't the production of milk a waste of useable plant resources that we could be using to either grow meat-producing animals or eating the plants ourselves (for the calcium they contain)? The problem is not entirely in our wasteful addiction to gasoline.

Saul Kohl

New York, NY

Jul 19 2007 - 10:29pm

Web Letter

Another facet of this story is the amount of greenhouse gas produced by the dairy industry. Correct me if i am wrong, but at least the UN believes that the amount of methane and production that goes into a gallon of milk far outweighs the CO2 from a gallon of gas.

Maybe we should all drink soy milk?!

Alex Hoechsmann

Yellowknife, NT, Canada

Jul 17 2007 - 8:24pm

Web Letter

Where's my 1995-promised #ITMFA electric car (and home), instead?

Victor Bruce Anderson

Eagle Lake, FL

Jul 16 2007 - 10:17pm

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