Another Throwback Thursday post. Today we go back to May 8, 2008, when gas costs $4 per gallon.
By: Dick Howe 5/8/2008
Corn, of all things, plays a major role in our current economic woes. The high price of oil and government mandates to find alternative fuels has raised the price of corn, leading mega-farmers to plant more of it and sell most of it for ethanol. With gas creeping towards $4 per gallon, I’m not sure how much ethanol is doing to hold down the amount it costs me to fill my tank with gas. But with the increased acreage devoted to corn squeezing out other crops, and much of the corn harvest going for non-food uses, the remainder of the crop is much more expensive.
But we don’t eat that much corn, you might say. Well if you drink soda or almost any other processed food, or if you eat beef, pork or poultry, you consume an enormous amount of corn in the form of sweeteners or feed for meat producing animals. The dilemma is that if you cut back on ethanol production, the price of gasoline will go up. But if you use ethanol to lessen the high cost of fuel, the price of food goes up. Maybe there’s a third way and for that, we can look back to World War Two when our national policy was for each household to plant its own Victory Garden as a way of increasing the supply of fresh fruits and vegetables and keep down their prices. Why couldn’t we do the same thing today?
Yesterday’s New York Times showed how urban farmers in the heart of New York City, Detroit and other non-rural settings are establishing thriving farms on city owned vacant lots, not only to supplement their own groceries, but to sell to their neighbors at urban farm stands. This proof of market experience has drawn farmers on the outskirts of these metropolises to bring their produce into the inner city. New York City is even allowing WIC checks to be used at these urban farmers’ markets.
Why not give it a try? The time is right. So on Sunday, besides the cut flowers and box of chocolates you pick up for Mother’s Day, grab a package of seeds or a six-pack of seedlings for your Twenty-First Century Victory Garden. You’ll eat healthier and you can use the money you save over the course of the summer to top off your gas tank come Labor Day.