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This Holiday, Give Thanks and Get Real (About Our Food!)

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Fall is about food. Approaching Thanksgiving, my favorite holiday, copious food-rich words are written before we all sit down with loved ones to celebrate food abundance. But in this fall food season, what do we most need to know about food for all seasons?

It is this: Our exceedingly bright species has ended up creating a "food" system so inefficient that much of it doesn't really produce food at all!

Sound extreme? Here's what I mean: First, there's no inherent connection between what we grow on most of the world's farmland and what human bodies need to thrive.

In the U.S., 43 percent of all cropped acreage, and the most fertile share, goes to just two crops -- corn and soy. Yet they aren't really food but raw materials that hardly ever turn up in our mouths directly. Forty percent of corn, the biggest crop, now goes to fuel tanks. The rest, along with 98 percent of soy meal, becomes raw material for creating products like grain-fed meat that (except for cooking oils) greatly shrink the capacity of the original ingredients to meet nutritional needs.

For a quick, animated intro to what's behind it all, see Anna Lappe's Food MythBusters debut video. Obviously a lot of people care. In just the first few weeks, it's attracted more than 60,000 viewers.


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