Welcome to the blog for Colgate University's interdisciplinary course on food. This is the place to keep up with what students in the course are experiencing in their work at Common Thread Community Farm and through their everyday encounters with food.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Preservation of Appalachian Heirloom Corn

I came across an NPR article today that discusses the preservation of an Appalachian heirloom corn variety called Bloody Butcher. For centuries, bloody butcher corn, named for its speckled red color, was isolated in Appalachian communities and was used as food, animal feed, and fermentation. This celebrated food is becoming harder and harder to acquire as mass-produced hybrid corn is flooding the market, leaving small scale corn heirloom corn production less economically viable.  The author ends the article with an observation of American food culture, explaining that the preservation of heirloom corn "...will require a new generation of farmers taking an interest in these small, niche markets and finding ways to protect the heritage seeds from becoming eclipsed by large-scale, genetically modified and hybrid crops." To preserve heirloom varieties, Americans must be willing to "pay for taste over volume."

I believe this article highlights a relevant discourse in the future of the American food system. Genetically modified crops sustain our nation, and for this we are thankful, but is this how food is supposed to work? Should we value taste over volume? What is more important, cheaply feeding the world or producing quality foods in lesser quantities? I don't think there are definite answers to these questions.

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