Don’t Mention the “G” Word in Iowa

From the Utne Reader comes one of the best stories I’ve heard in a long time.

Ricardo Salvador–that is, Dr. Salvador,  associate professor of Agronomy at Iowa State University–is an expert in maize physiology with a special interest in the history and sustainability of human societies and their modes of subsistence.

He seemed to be the obvious candidate to lead the Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture as its new director. Although he was a finalist for the position, “he didn’t get the post even when the top candidate turned it down,” according to Utne Reader. That’s because of a comment he made about cows: While giving his presentation at Iowa State he referred to a research project in New York State in which he mentioned meat being “produced in the natural way that meat should be produced, which is on land suitable for grasses and perennial crops.”

In Iowa, where corn is king, you don’t want to mention the “g” word.

What’s even more ironic is that the Leopold Center is named for conservationist Aldo Leopold, who wrote in his essay “A Biotic View of Land” that “each species, including ourselves, is a link in many chains. The deer eats a hundred plants other than oak, and the cow a hundred plants other than corn. Both, then, are links in a hundred chains.”

Leopold might be rolling in his grassy grave if he were to see Iowa’s acres of corn soon to be put in cattle troughs at feedlots.


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