Monday, May 21, 2007

Ethanol Horror story: hogs forced to eat junk food

David Seaton's News Links
Bismark said that is was better for people to not know how sausages were made. Still as true as the day he said it.

This is a story that illustrates the insanity of turning corn into fuel for automobiles and also gives interesting insights into the food industry too.

Does anybody remember the film called "Soylent Green", cause reading this article from the Wall Street Journal, I think we are headed in that direction for sure. DS

With Corn Prices Rising, Pigs Switch To Junk Food - Wall Street Journal
Abstract: "Pigs can be picky eaters," Mr. Smith says, scooping a handful of banana chips, yogurt-covered raisins, dried papaya and cashews from one of the 12 one-ton boxes in his shed. Generally, he says, "they like the sweet stuff." Mr. Smith is just happy his pigs aren't eating him out of house and home. Growing demand for corn-based ethanol, a biofuel that has surged in popularity over the past year, has pushed up the price of corn, Mr. Smith's main feed, to near-record levels. Because feed represents farms' biggest single cost in raising animals, farmers are serving them a lot of people food, since it can be cheaper. Besides trail mix, pigs and cattle are downing cookies, licorice, cheese curls, candy bars, french fries, frosted wheat cereal and peanut-butter cups. Some farmers mix chocolate powder with cereal and feed it to baby pigs. "It's kind of like getting Cocoa Puffs," says David Funderburke, a livestock nutritionist at Cape Fear Consulting in Warsaw, N.C., who helps Mr. Smith and other farmers formulate healthy diets for livestock.(...) In Pennsylvania, farmers are turning to candy bars and snack foods because of the many food manufacturers nearby. Hershey Co. sells farmers waste cocoa and the trimmings from wafers that go into its Kit Kat bars. At Nissin Foods, maker of Top Ramen and Cup Noodles, farmers drive to a Lancaster, Pa., factory and load up on scraps of the squiggly dried noodles, which pile up in bins beneath the assembly line. Hiroshi Kika, a senior manager at the company, says the farm business is "very minor" but helps the company's effort to "do anything to recycle." Other businesses called "jobbers" serve as middlemen, buying food that manufacturers would otherwise throw away, like burned or broken cookies, or cereal that contains too much sugar, and selling it to livestock operations.(...) Historically, the livestock industry has consumed 60% of the nation's corn crop. Thanks to the ethanol rush, the price of a bushel of corn for months has hovered around $4 -- nearly double the price of a few years ago. That has prompted livestock groups like the National Cattlemen's Beef Association and the National Chicken Council to call for an end to federal ethanol subsidies, including a 51-cent-per-gallon tax credit offered to companies that blend gasoline with ethanol. For now, livestock must pay up or make do with alternatives.(...) Mr. Smith says he's paying about $63 to feed a single pig for five or six months before it goes to market -- up 13% from last year. His costs would be even higher if he didn't augment his feed with trail mix, which he says helps him save on average about $8 a ton on feed. This year, Mr. Smith has bought enough trail mix to feed about 5,000 hogs, and that will save him about $40,000. He began feeding his hogs trail mix about a year ago, after Mr. Funderburke told him a local manufacturer was looking to dump surplus mix that was either too salty, sprinkled with cardboard or otherwise unfit for human consumption. Mr. Smith recently got a truckload of chocolate chips and his pigs seem to like them. "I've heard no complaints," he says.(...) Dwight Hess, a cattle feedlot operator in Marietta, Pa., is located in the heart of snack country, near Hershey and Herr Foods Inc., a maker of potato chips, pretzels and snack mixes. His cattle ration consists of about 17% "candy meal," a blend of chocolate bars and large chunks of chocolate; 3% of what he calls "party mix," a blend of popcorn, pretzels, potato chips and cheese curls; 8% corn gluten; and the remainder corn and barley he grows. He says the byproducts save him about 10% on feed costs. Still, it costs him about 65 cents to put a pound on a steer, up from 42 cents last year. Near the Snake River in Idaho, Cevin Jones of Intermountain Beef is struggling to feed his 12,000 cattle in light of higher feed costs. Traditionally, he has used up to 30% corn or other grains in his feed mix. This year he's using 100% byproducts, including french fries, Tater Tots and potato peels. "It's kind of funny," Mr. Jones says, "every once in a while, you can spot a couple of cattle fighting over a whole potato." READ IT ALL


Anonymous said...

Come on you've had better stuff. Pigs have been fed leftover food forever. Doesn't matter if it's from a factory or the farmers kitchen.

And sausages are only inedible if they were prepared in Anglo countries. Because they take it as a way to get rid of the waste.

David Seaton's Newslinks said...

My dad and my uncles grew up on a farm in Iowa and I spend a greater part of my childhood summers around family farms there and in Illinois and the pigs ate scraps from the kitchen, health middle western farm food not frigging old candybars!!!

This is like the cows eating infected sheep brains. Ethanol from corn is crazy and criminal... In my humble opinion.

Anansi said...

I also grew up on a farm and it matters what is fed to livestock. I agree, this is crazy. Have we slipped into bizarro world without noticing?