News from the Tennessee Valley Columnists
SUNDAY, MAY 7, 2006


Oil crisis threatens other resources: turnips, cornbread

Violence in Nigeria. Attacks in Iraq. Rumblings of nuclear weapons from Iran. Growing demand from China and India.

We're hearing it all when it comes to reasons for higher gas prices, but the final result is the same.

The numbers at the gas pump are spinning faster than a pinwheel in Chicago.

With the nation turning to ethanol as one solution, another segment of society faces a growing threat.

The demand for ethanol could drive up prices on the international cornbread market and lead to a supply crisis for turnip-green eaters.

Analysts, sitting in rocking chairs outside Cracker Barrel, say corn muffins play a pivotal role in the U.S. turnip-green market, equaled only by volatile pepper-sauce additives.

The fear is that more companies will buy corn to produce ethanol and deplete supplies for cornbread. And everyone knows what would happen to demand for turnip greens without cornbread in the equation.

Researchers at Auburn University are trying to solve this looming cornbread shortage by processing switch grass into ethanol.

Being a person with a keen interest in both science and cornbread, this got me to thinking. If you can save cornbread by turning switch grass into ethanol, why not use zoysia grass, too?

If any researchers are willing to harvest my lawn every week, I'll donate the raw products for the good of the country. After all, dependence on foreign cornbread is a matter of national turnip-green security.

And speaking of lawns, has anyone tried to harness the high-octane power of fire ants for fuel? It's just an idea. Again, I'm willing to contribute from my vast reserves, if you're willing to harvest.

A man in Boulder, Colo., is doing his part to conserve cornbread by turning used vegetable oil from an Asian restaurant into gas for his Toyota.

Working in his garage, Jeffrey Orrey combines 25 gallons of vegetable oil, five gallons of methanol from a racetrack and Red Devil drain cleaner. He brews it with a modified water heater and churns out fuel for about 70 cents a gallon.

And if that's not good enough, his wife says, it smells like egg rolls.

Here in the South, where fried foods provide an endless supply of used cooking oil, it would smell like catfish and hushpuppies.

Hopefully, people like Orrey can save cornbread for future generations.

If not, Auburn might as well convert turnip greens into gasoline.

Scott Morris Scott Morris
DAILY City Editor

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