Some Catholic bloggers are of the opinion that growing corn for ethanol is immoral. The idea seems to be that anything that can be grown for food must be grown for food – or not grown at all. I disagree with this in principle. Many products have multiple uses, only one of which is the “highest and best use” at the time. Despite the world food crisis this year, the fact remains that there are tremendous food surpluses in some regions, and severe shortages in other regions. Growing more corn for food in the United States is not necessarily going to help the poor in Haiti, who can’t afford to buy it in the first place. Furthermore there is so much wasted food in the United States that many farmers can’t even give away their product. Last year in Glenn County one could see many acres of rotting fruit on the ground beneath unharvested citrus trees. The cost of getting citrus to market was greater than the revenue it would bring. And we’re going to tell these farmers that they can’t pull out their orchards and grow corn for ethanol? That makes no sense whatsoever.
There is a new book on the market titled “Alcohol Can Be a Gas” by David Blume, and it’s getting lots of publicity. I haven’t read the book but the website looks very interesting. He says farmers can make a “middle class income” on small acreage by growing fuel conversion feedstocks. This fellow may be a huckster for all I know, but the idea intrigues me (for obvious reasons). If you have any thoughts about this, please leave a comment.