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Lunchtime thoughts on solar powered cows

December 9, 2009
a wrap

That'll do me nicely, thanks

It’s about this time of day that a blogger’s thoughts turn away from work and towards lunch. The trouble is, for a blogger on a reduced-wheat diet (which fortunately is scarcely an intolerance and certainly not an allergy) finding satisfying sustenance can be a frustrating experience. Salads lose some of their appeal at this time of year, while a cold day makes a hot pasty, in all its wheaty glory, an almost irresistible temptation. Scan the ready-made sandwich shelf of your usual retailer, and you would think that bread can only be made from wheat, and that historians of South America mislead us when they say that the pre-Columbian natives of the Americas got by on their cereal staple, corn.

In fact, corn (or maize, if you will) still comes out on top, ahead of rice and wheat, in terms of metric tons of it produced worldwide. The USA is responsible for nearly half of this harvest. Such a huge amount of it is grown that uses for it must be found, with the result that it’s fodder for beef cattle. It makes them grow quickly, but it’s not their natural diet. Antibiotics have to be continually added as feed supplements to help their stomachs digest the stuff.

As well as cow health, there’s a high cost in terms of carbon emissions too. Monocultural corn farming is heavily dependent on fossil-fuel-based fertilizers, so industrially-reared cattle are, in a sense, eating oil, in stark contrast to the traditionally-reared cattle eating grass grown with free solar power.

Grass-fed beef has lower fat overall, and more of the healthy omega 3 fats also found in nuts and fish. The omega 3 in a cow’s tissues begins to be lost if it is moved off the grass and into a feedlot.

Fortunately most cattle here in the UK spend their springs and summers chewing on grass, with conserved grass in the form of silage to keep them going in the winter, perhaps topped up with sugar beet, turnips, plus those potatoes not up to supermarket standards.

As for corn for direct human consumption rather than cattle fodder, could an enterprising supermarket not try selling sandwich fillings in a pure corn wrap, in a form that might be recognised by an ancient Aztec? At least one hungry stomach would be grateful.

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. Janet permalink
    December 16, 2009 9:45 pm

    I agree that salads at this time of year are not exactly what one wants on a cold wet day. Also even for people who do not have an allergy to wheat, sometimes sandwiches in their plastic wrapping just look unappetising, the bread looks thick and the fillings small. I do like the chicken wraps that you can get at certain supermarkets and the fillings are very generous. Are these wraps made of wheat or corn? I would be happy to eat either.

  2. solarukweblog permalink*
    December 18, 2009 12:49 pm

    Most readily available wraps are made from wheat flour. As you point out, at least there’s more in the way of filling than can be the case with sandwiches.

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