If you are driving by a hayfield at 60 mph, you might notice how green it is and how the wind makes it move in waves like the ocean. It will cross your mind that this is a beautiful sight. If you stop your car and walk into the meadow, you will notice all the colors besides green. Orange hawkweed, yellow mouse-ear, clover in pink, purple, white and yellow; deep purple cowvetch, the prettiest flower in the world. The hay bakes in the sun, and the scent will remind you of freshly baked bread.
This beauty is more than skin deep. Hay may be cut down every year, but the roots stay in the soil, keeping the soil from blowing away in the wind. Next year the roots will send up hay again, without plowing, tilling, planting, praying for rain, applying herbicides or pesticides. So much simpler than the agri-biz of corn.
Here in the United States, we can go to the store and buy Irish butter from grass-fed cows. That is its claim to fame: grass-fed cows. Hay-fed cows. Magazines touting gourmet foods claim that European butter is richer. I don’t buy European butter mostly because I’m a freshness freak and butter that has traveled halfway around the world isn’t so appealing. I’d like to buy grass-fed products from here, but it’s almost impossible. America is on a corn-trip. More and more and more is better than “better.” Volume is the thing, and that is ramped up by the empty carbs in monoculture corn.
If you watch the documentary “King Corn” on YouTube, you’ll see a new perspective on the subject of corn-fed cows and corn-fed people. As a country and for our country, city and rural people together need to look at what agricultural practices do to the environment, to people and to cows. To go back to your hayfield, if you take just one crop late, you will have allowed an entire generation of field-nesting birds to grow up and learn to fly. That’s a happy remedy for a sad world.