Here is a view of the major garden varietal in my state. Corn and soybeans are the predominate plants cultivated in the state of Illinois where I recently relocated from Northern California. In coming to terms with my new topography I’ve been investigating some of the cultural forces that shape the land.
In 2004, of the approximately 35.57 million farmland acres, 91% of Illinois soybeans were genetically modified, as was 33% of Illinois corn. In the United States as a whole, 70% to 80% of the grains and legumes grown are fed to farmed animals. Pork production is the worldwide leader in grain consumption, followed by poultry, dairy and beef. In the United States, 6.9 kilograms of corn and soy are used to produce one kilogram of pork. (Fitzhugh et al. 1978; FAO 1985, 1988, 1989).
Leo Harrigan (Environmental Health Perspectives Vol 110, 5 May 2002) estimates that the average U.S. farm uses a total of 3 calories of fossil energy to produce 1 calorie of food energy. Thus our current method of food production takes its place alongside other non-renewable resources, contributing to our “extractive economy”.
"We don't need one more breakthrough in agriculture," in the words of
Wes Jackson, "We need to stare hard at America's fields — for a long time — and then reach into the vast literature in evolutionary biology and ecology to learn the rules and laws at work on the land before we got here, and out of this knowledge, put together a new synthesis, a truly new paradigm for agriculture." (Wes Jackson, The Land Institute, Salina, Kansas.)