This short story (very short story, a little snippet of a tale really) is one of the first stories I’ve written. It was fun to write and it was finished in less time than it usually takes me to plot a story. Maybe because it’s so short. Maybe because I wasn’t self-conscious about my agenda (it’s an environmental tale, period). Maybe because I wrote it in this old-school fairy tale voice and it just flowed. I don’t know. I do hope it is fun to read too.
I got the idea for Corn Tale while I was reading Michael Pollan’s Omnivore’s Dilemma. This one is not fun to read. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a good book, engaging, thought provoking, and reads almost like a thriller. But not exactly fun. It will likely spoil your next meal unless you already are a very conscious eater.
Pollan investigates the origins of what lands on our plates and, in case of what he calls the “industrial food chain”, the picture he paints is not pretty. One of the things that shocked me in his book was the predominance of corn in our diet. Theoretically humans might be omnivorous, but in practice they behave a lot like koalas.
The koala doesn’t worry about what to eat: If it looks and smells and tastes like a eucalyptus leaf, it must be dinner.
In our case, no matter what it looks and smells and tastes like — it’s most likely corn. Apparently processed corn is everywhere, from chicken nuggets and beer, to toothpaste and batteries. Unprocessed yet, it grows on all continents apart from Antarctica occupying “more of the earth’s surface than virtually any other domesticated species, our own included.”
This is the image that captured my imagination and Corn Tale was written as a little what-if fantasy. After many years it is finally out, available on Amazon (and soon from other retailers too).