supplying dry land with water by artificial means
That sweeping second hand was the
irrigation machine, a pipe more than a thousand feet long that delivered a steady rain of water, fertilizer, and pesticide to the potato plants.
of or relating to or caused by a poison
The chemical is so
toxic to the nervous system that no one is allowed in the field for five days after it is sprayed.
any animal or plant material used to fertilize land
And then, very suddenly, the golden hills turned jet-black on both sides of the highway: black with tens of thousands of cattle crowded onto a carpet of
manure that stretched as far as the eye could see.
an animal that feeds on both animal and vegetable substances
But because we are
omnivores we have very little built-in instinct that tells us which foods are good for us and which aren’t.
the property of copious abundance
We’re so confused about food that we’ve forgotten what food really is—the
bounty of the earth and the power of the sun captured by plants and animals.
relating to or conferring immunity (to disease or infection)
The result is a hybrid—a disease-
resistant plant that produces a lot of corn. Sounds good, right?
a document granting an inventor sole rights to an invention
But with GMOs, a company can own a
patent on a living organism.
diversity, with many different types of crops, allowed the farmer to get by if prices fell for any one crop.
happen or occur as a result of something
A new business
emerged—cattle, pigs, and chickens started being stuffed full of corn in large factory-type operations called feedlots.
the environment as it relates to living organisms
When George Naylor’s father spread his first load of ammonium nitrate fertilizer, the
ecology of his farm underwent a quiet revolution.
a grant paid by a government to an enterprise
The family only gets by because of the paycheck George’s wife, Peggy, brings home from her job—and because of a
subsidy check from the U.S. government.
prohibit especially by law or social pressure
Some might be kernels grown with atrazine, a herbicide (weed killer) now
banned in Europe but widely used in the U.S.
gradually deprive of mother's milk
In October, two weeks before I made his acquaintance, steer number 534 was
weaned from his mother.
having a tendency
The calves are
prone to getting sick.
characteristic of physical or moral well-being
Compared to all the other things we feed cattle these days, corn seems positively
unable to dissolve still more of a substance
Corn-fed beef contains more
saturated fat than the meat of grass-fed animals. Too much
saturated fat has been linked to heart disease and other health problems.
the killing of animals, as for food
Every day until his
slaughter 534 will convert thirty-two pounds of feed into four pounds of new weight—new muscle, fat, and bone, that's seven pounds of grain for one pound of cow.
an elaborate and systematic plan of action
So food companies have been very successful at getting us to pay more for the same food. What about their other moneymaking
scheme, to get us to buy (and eat) more food than we need?
Three of every five Americans are overweight; one of every five is
a disease characterized by high glucose levels in the blood
The disease formerly known as adult-onset
diabetes has had to be renamed Type II
diabetes since it now occurs so frequently in children, and the Centers for Disease Control estimates that one in three American children born in 2000 will develop it.
a widespread outbreak of an infectious disease
epidemic of obesity lies this simple fact: When food is abundant and cheap, people will eat more of it.
overeat or eat immodestly
Rats presented with solutions of pure sugar or tubs of pure lard will
gorge themselves sick.
a system of body parts that serve some particular purpose
tract is also good at digesting different types of foods.
a strong liking
To help it make food decisions, our brain developed taste
keep in one's mind
If the rat doesn’t get sick, then it knows it can eat the whole thing—a knowledge it
retains for the rest of its life.