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Saturday, July 7, 2012

Prairie Grass



The 100+ plants that make up native prairie is the basis of life and can be the basis of much of the food we eat. Cattle, sheep, and bison are all herbivores. They never evolved to eat corn and high protein feeds. These feeds must be introduced slowly in feedlots because they make these animals ill, but they are fed corn because of rapid weight gain. Before agriculture settled on the Great Plains millions of bison grazed here, perhaps more animals than are now supported by modern agricultural crops. We now grow two dominant crops, corn and soybeans. Perhaps one third of these grains are fed to animals, the rest is used industrially to produce everything from plastic to high fructose corn syrup. These small areas of native prairie are rare, amazing places.

10 comments:

  1. Now, that's some BIG sky there.

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    1. Ted Kooser, a Poet Laurate, says the reason Midwestern farmers are bent over is because of the weight of the sky.

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  2. Replies
    1. Thank you, Robert. The prairie is an amazing place filled with birds not seen anywhere else.

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  3. The clouds look photoshopped in...

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  4. Or maybe a microsoft wallpaper

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    1. You are free to use these as wallpaper on your computer, if you wish. The clouds were what they were on the day I shot these pictures. No Photoshop was used to alter the sky.

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  5. Thanks, Jeff, not only for your beautiful series on prairie grasses but also for your commentary. It makes one wonder why "we" do what "we" do, especially when there is evidence indicating it's not so smart. Thirty years ago when I lived in The Netherlands, French and Dutch friends told us that corn was used only as animal feed; it was not for human consumption. Now it seems Europeans are putting corn on everything, including salads and pizzas. They are getting heavier, too. Wonder if corn does the same for humans as it does for cattle.

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    1. Our food production systems are not sustainable for many reasons. They can only exist because of government support and petroleum. Corn and soybeans sell for less than production cost so farmers receive "support" price payments from the government. Oil based fertilizers make crops grow in a monoculture increasingly requiring more chemicals to control pests and weeds. Most processed food is now mostly corn based, and it does result in obesity. The corporate food processors are the ones who benefit from these systems.

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  6. I was fortunate to work with a professor for 10 years who said every decision he made was based on what would be best for his students. If only we and the politicians we elect (or get) would similarly base every decision on what would be best for sustaining long-term life on this planet. I'm no economist but it stands to reason the economy would be strengthened in the process. It seems we have the knowledge to do what's sustainable but just don't in so many instances. Gotta have hope we will get it together soon.

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