Set The Cows Free and Burn Down the Corn

Inside Dakota Ag

I may be overreacting to Eric Schlosser's lecture at South Dakota State University. The "Fast Food Nation" author pulled no punches.

Published on: October 19, 2011

I swear, if I farmed I'd go home and set the cows free and burn down the corn and soybeans.

I heard Eric Schlosser, author of Fast Food Nation, speak at South Dakota State University in Brookings, S.D., tonight.

Here's the impressions from his lecture I came away with:

We're making people fat and sick with the kind of food we produce.

We're ruining our communities by increasing the size of our farms and ranches.

We're sucking taxpayers dry by taking money from farm programs.

Schlosser seemed to be critical of nearly all things related to modern agriculture. The list included pesticides, antibiotics, growth hormones, feedlots, cattle and hog barns, poultry houses, packer contracts, cloned animals and genetically modified crops.

Apparently, we've been suckered by the fast food industry. We bought into their standardization requirements that began 40 years ago and that has in turn led to the consolidation and industrialization of agriculture.

The solution, according to Schlosser, is to switch to organic production and to grow food for people instead of livestock. How do we make a living doing that? Schlosser admits it would be tough. (Maybe the government ought to subsidize farmers making the switch, he says.)

Schlosser warns that in South Dakota we are betting our business and personal lives, even our families' lives, on industrialized agriculture.

If GMOs end up killing us, we will be the first victims, he says, because 98% of the corn and soybeans grown in South Dakota are genetically modified.

If glysophate causes cancer, we will fall ill first because it is already rural water and even in our rain, he says.

That's pretty dark stuff.

But before you set the cows free and burn down the corn, get this picture in your mind:

Before the lecture, Schlosser went to Nick's, the local hamburger joint, for dinner. Go figure.