Fertile Soil Gone From Midwestern Farms


Evan Thaler/NPR

Farming has destroyed a lot of the rich soil of America’s Midwestern prairie. A team of scientists just came up with a staggering new estimate for just how much has disappeared…

The new study emerged from a simple observation, one that people flying over Midwestern farms can confirm for themselves. The color of bare soil varies, and that variation is related to soil quality.

The soil that’s darkest in color is widely known as topsoil. Soil scientists call this layer the “A-horizon.” It’s the “black, organic, rich soil that’s really good for growing crops,” says Evan Thaler, a Ph.D. student at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst.

It’s full of living microorganisms and decaying plant roots, also called organic carbon. When settlers first arrived in the Midwest, it was everywhere, created from centuries of accumulated prairie grass. Plowing, though, released much of the trapped carbon, and topsoil was also lost to wind and water erosion. The soil that remains is often much lighter in color.

RTFA. The history isn’t unknown. The effects are still (sometimes) debated. It takes many tons of additives annually to keep productivity and profitability close to each other. Healthy? That’s another question.

The stuff in your McNuggets that is also used in Silly Putty probably won’t hurt you. Let’s eat!

U.S. McNuggets curiously… um… different than their European cousins

U.S. McNuggets not only contain more calories and fat than their British counterparts, but also chemicals not found across the Atlantic…

American McNuggets (190 calories, 12 grams of fat, 2 grams of saturated fat for 4 pieces) contain the chemical preservative tBHQ, tertiary butylhydroquinone, a petroleum-based product. They also contain dimethylpolysiloxane, “an anti-foaming agent” also used in Silly Putty.

By contrast, British McNuggets (170 calories, 9 grams of fat, 1 gram of saturated fat for 4 pieces) lists neither chemical among its ingredients…

McDonald’s says the differences are based on the local tastes [Ed.: ROFLMAO!!! Too true, we Americans love our Silly Putty.]: In the United States, McNuggets are coated and then cooked, in the United Kingdom, they are cooked and then coated. As a result, the British McNuggets absorb less oil and have less fat…

Marion Nestle, a New York University professor and author of “What to Eat,” says the tertiary butylhydroquinone and dimethylpolysiloxane in the McNuggets probably pose no health risks…

I know that this is another “The U.S. leads the world in…” story. I just haven’t found the hook yet.