The United States is the number one producer of corn in the world. We grow twice as much as second place China and more than the rest of the top ten combined. An important food commodity in countries around the globe, corn is also an ingredient in many processed food and in many non-foods products we use daily. American farmers will plant a record 92 billion acres of corn in this crop year. But there is a problem.
Demand has caused corn prices to rise. Worldwide population has doubled over the past 50 years from 3 billion in 1960 to nearly 7 billion in 2010. Last year 2.6 billion bushels of U.S. corn went into ethanol production. The EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) has decided to stick with gasoline standards that include ethanol, even though onetime supporter Al Gore admits he was wrong about the policy to subsidize this effort that costs taxpayers billions of dollars annually.
As ethanol production takes more of the corn crop the price of this commodity will continue to increase. This hurts people in countries that depend on corn as an important part of their diet, in fact their very existence. Many of our processed foods and other goods use corn and its byproducts as an ingredient. This, along with ethanol being 10% of every gallon of gas sold, will end up hurting Americans in the wallet.
Here are a few of the processed products using corn: baked goods, brewed and carbonated beverages, cheese, cereals, condiments, chewing gum, pancake and biscuit mixes, gravies and sauces, canned and dehydrated soups, coffee creamers, condensed milk, fruit products, frostings and icings and powdered sugar.
In addition, corn can be found in these products: vinegar, distilled beverages, baby formulas, many fried foods, candy, ice cream, cured meats (bacon, luncheon meats and hot dogs), peanut butter, frozen seafood, instant tea mixes, low-calorie sweeteners, most snack foods, canned vegetables, gelatin desserts, margarine and nutritional supplements.
Non-foods using corn include: adhesives, aspirin, talcum powder, paper cups, toothpaste, medicines (syrups, ointments and lozenges), laundry starch and chalk. And the big one, which uses about 40% of total U.S. corn production, is livestock and poultry feed thereby pushing up the price of meat and chicken at supermarkets and restaurants.
At a time when government spending continues to run wild, the subsidies for corn producers should be reconsidered, because higher prices mean higher profits for farmers; however, politicians in corn producing states will resist. The EPA shows no interest in re-addressing the ethanol fuel requirements, so gas prices will continue to climb.
Some manufacturers have found a way to disguise price increases. They have reduced the amount of product in their packages. Take a look at the items bought on a regular basis, many have reduced the contents by10% or more. The only good news is that we may actually eat less. Does this mean waistlines will shrink by 10%, too?