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This Nationwide Drought: Bad for Food Prices and Good for Insects

With drought-tied U.S. corn prices at a record high, the effects will ripple far and wide.

The worst drought in half a century will cause food prices to skyrocket, according to the latest figures released by the USDA. More than 60 percent of the country is currently in some state of drought, and week by week, it has worsened. In the past month, the price of corn has climbed 50 percent to an all time high of $8.24 per bushel and is expected to continue upward.

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What the Flooding Mississippi Means for America's Dinner

If there's any silver lining to the Mississippi's meandering path this spring, it's to signal the return of fish and fertile soils.

In 1944, a cartographer named Harold Fisk traced the mighty Mississippi River, as it flowed in his day, with a thin, snaking line of white. He pored over geological maps and added a series of earth-toned ribbons showing where he thought the river had flowed in previous decades.

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Chart: The Complicated Relationship Between Ethanol and Corn Production

Conventional wisdom says that growing corn to produce ethanol contributes to harmful food price spikes. But it's not that simple.


Conventional wisdom says that growing corn to produce ethanol is to blame, at least in part, for the current food price spikes that are hitting headlines and fueling revolutions—and that disproportionately hurt the world's poor.

The argument is that increased ethanol production creates demand for corn, and demand can obviously lead to higher prices. It's not that simple, however, because higher prices also incentivize farmers to grow more corn, and greater supply will tend, in turn, to lower prices.

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Cornography

The United States is the number one per capita consumer of corn in the world. Don't recall stuffing your face with thousands of ears of corn...

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZhL95GGmXCYThe United States is the number one per capita consumer of corn in the world. Don't recall stuffing your face with thousands of ears of corn last year? As expounded in The Omnivore's Dilemma, King Corn, and Super Size Me, high fructose corn syrup and other derivatives work their way into everything from Wonder Bread to Big Macs. Add to that corn grown for ethanol production, and you're looking at one corn-obsessed culture.

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