Carbohydrate economy

Late summer Ohio soybeans.

New one on me! Proponents of the carbohydrate economy argue for basing our material culture on plants, plants transformed into textiles, chemicals, and, especially, energy.

Pardon me, but isn’t petroleum plants? Transformed plants, but plants nonetheless…. Ironic….

The American Prospect’s new article by David Morris, “The Once and Future Carbohydrate Economy,” discusses how this movement will revive farms and farming, and redistribute the locus of production across the landscape—at least those parts of it that can make big agricultural contributions. The biggest selling point for the carbohydrate economy, as near as I can tell, is that it is sustainable, first and foremost, and second, that it will reduce pollution.

However, I think this ignores the huge petrochemical inputs to modern, monocropped, high-production agriculture, which the carbohydrate economy would have to be based on to meet production demands, not only in the field, but in getting the goods to market or factory, and transforming them into those touted carbohydrate economy products.

Can you really buy Morris’s optimistic prediction?

The carbohydrate economy has the worldwide potential to catalyze a cooperative farmer movement that displaces the traditional farmer-versus-farmer battles. Traditionally, the carbohydrate has battled other carbohydrates for market share. High-fructose corn sugar versus sugar cane. Brazilian soybeans versus U.S. soybeans. In the future, producers of carbohydrates can cooperate to capture another huge, untapped market: hydrocarbons.

Mark me unconvinced. You?

BTW, if we adopt the CE, we better figure out how to get all those Latin American illegals integrated into our labor system! We’re gonna need ’em!

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