Posted by: A Part of the Solution | April 8, 2011

What’s Wrong with Corn and Soy?

OK. OK. There’s too much corn and soy in the diet of the average American. Yup. This is conclusive. And we’re not sure what the long-term effects on our health may be due to the profound increase in these two food sources over the past forty years or so.

Beyond the obvious concern of our direct ingestion of these plants, there’s the matter of how much of what we feed on feeds on these two plants as well. You knew cattle, swine and poultry all partook. But did you know corn and soy are primary components of pelletized farmed fish feed? It doesn’t sound so bad:  a vegetable based diet for animals which are wholly or mostly vegetarian by nature. As far as that goes, this is true enough. But then there’s the matter of methane. And cholesterol. And estrogen.

Methane first. Cows evolved to eat grass, not grain. Grass, not beans or seeds. And this is key. As well, pigs and chickens are accomplished foragers. They evolved to eat a varied diet (as did people). A diet meant to change as the seasons change. They’re supposed to enjoy some of everything and a little too much of whatever’s ripe right at the moment. None of these animals is meant to exist on corn and soy with a few synthetic amino acids and mineral additives through every day of their (blessedly, in this case) short lives. How do we know this isn’t a great diet for our farmyard friends? How about 28% of all human-activity associated greenhouse gas emissions are created by animals being raised for meat on a diet which disagrees with their digestive systems? That little fact is courtesy the EPA.

Cholesterol’s up next. When chickens, cows and pigs live on a corn/soy based feed, their fat contains high levels of LDL cholesterol–the ‘bad’ kind. This is the kind of cholesterol which occludes arteries and causes such a rapid deterioration in key bodily systems once critical mass of the LDL is in place. When chickens and pigs forage and cows graze, and enjoy supplemental feed free of the offending corn/soy blend, not only does the presence of LDL cholesterol in their fat almost disappear, but the amount of Omega-3s, Vitamins D and E, and CLA (good for preventing cancer, among other things) spikes up to triple and quadruple what you find in concentrated feed-lot finished animals and conventionally managed pigs and chickens. Take home message: pastured flesh reverses the negative health effects of consuming commercially raised versions of the same animal.

Estrogen at the plate. Where the corn is more culpable in cholesterol concerns, the soy is at fault for the large amounts of random estrogenic molecules roaming our bodies like outlaws in Tombstone on pay-day. Too much estrogen in the body, over too long a time period, is now known to be closely associated with women’s cancers: breast, ovarian, uterine, cervical–the whole package. While we can choose not to consume soy directly, how many of us are aware that one hundred percent of  non-pastured animals (and a goodly percentage of the supplemental feed for their pastured counterparts) is sky-high in soy content? Soy content which concentrates those estrogenic molecules in the fat of the meat we eat–every bite we take.

I’m working with like minded farmers to develop a custom feed supplement for our pigs and chickens. I want them soy-free and corn-free by summer of this year. That I’m also denying carry-on revenues to Monsanto is only icing on my philosophical cake.



  1. Holy Crap. I did not know about the greenhouse gas emissions statistic. Disgusting and twisted.

    • Oh, and I like THAT icing!!

    • It’s the kind of information Big Meatpacking/CAFOs and the USDA do not want you to notice. Big Meat is 3 companies controlling about 84% of all commercial slaughter in the US. In cows, the gas problem goes away if they graze; in pigs and chickens if they forage. It’s the USDA subsidized feed grown with Monsanto’s GMO seed driving so much of our current climate change. Pastured really does matter–as does a non-soy/corn supplement.

  2. Hey Carrie – I became a member of NOFA today and I just wanted to give you a shout out for the hard work you’re doing on your farm and for telling us about it on the blog. I really appreciate your thoughtfulness, creativity and willingness to share it with us. Hope you’re doing great!

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