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Turning up the heat on renewable fuels

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Lunchtime conversation Monday with some longtime ag types touched on calls by some to suspend federal renewable fuels standards in light of the drought the US is going through right now.

We've all heard the scary stories of higher food costs coming as a result of the drought. There is no doubt we will have smaller yields than last year and there's no doubt costs are at historic highs. However, it's important to investigate yourself how much of your food costs are really dependent on these commodities in particular, especially corn.

The reduced yields have brought the ethanol interests/livestock producer fight over the federal renewable fuels mandate into high relief.

Each side has some pretty slick and convincing arguments. These groups have been arguing about the diversion of corn to ethanol for years and this summer's prices have ramped up the rhetoric more than ever before.

Add to the conversation the Romney campaign's pledge to do away with the wind energy tax credits if he is elected. Without support for ethanol or wind energy, the US suddenly becomes much more dependent on foreign oil and, as a result,more interested in the affairs of state in countries we really would rather not be in.

I have a feeling the heat will stay high on this issue for a long time to come.


We turned the calendar to August last week and the days and weeks left of summer suddenly feel like precious commodities.

We were spendthrifts in June, carelessly wasting the sunny days. Now, with the back-to-school aisles jam-packed with both three-ring binders and moms with children in tow, we suddenly rush to fulfill our summer bucket lists.

I've sat outside with friends on a lazy summer Sunday letting afternoon turn to dusk, and fireflies begin to do their evening mating dance.

Making a meal out of just Iowa sweet corn, with plenty of butter and some salt and pepper? Check.

Dipped my toes in icy water? Yep.

A Taco House chimichanga, with a generous dose of sour cream? Thank you sweet niece Jenna, for delivering my first summer chimi!

An evening spent on the courthouse lawn, with friends and neighbors making the promenade and music in the background? Yes, I've enjoyed the recent summer tradition that is the Mainstreet Market.

On Sunday, son Drew and I hauled the ice cream maker out of the basement for a summer tradition we've not enjoyed for a long while - some homemade ice cream. I must admit, the electric version does seem a bit like cheating. My Grandpa Johnson always sweetened the pot for those who took their turn at the crank when I was a child, with a serving of Frosty Root Beer to the laborers.

Imagine our delight, a couple of weeks ago, when my husband and I came across individual bottles of that long-lost treat, while on a trip to St. Louis. It's funny how the same soda pop could have been a part of our very separate childhood memories. We savored the unique flavor and were transported back to those simple summer days.

With back to school on the horizon, and the Clay County Fair, that harbinger of fall, just a month away, it's time now to knock off those bucket list items that make up the simple pleasures of a hometown Iowa summer.

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By Paula Buenger