Kudzu! That wild growing, virtually indestructible, mostly uncontrollable, mass of foliage that plagues many areas of the southeast United States.
Urban, or should I say suburban, legend has it that it was developed by one of the southern universities many years ago to control erosion and look nice along the highways and byways. If you are from Alabama, then the University of Georgia did the dastardly deed. If you are from Georgia, then the University of Alabama did it. Mississippi, South Carolina, Arkansas, etc. Whatever. No one ever wants to take the blame for it. BUT, the bottom line is this: Kudzu was actually introduced in this country from Japan in 1876 at the Philadelphia Centennial Exposition. I have done my homework. I have studied.
So why, you may be asking, am I so 'hung up' (so to speak) on Kudzu all of a sudden? Valid question, answer forthcoming.
A good friend of mine made a statement regarding Kudzu a few days ago, the implications of which could revolutionize the economic structure of the entire planet. I will share this with you, but first, I wish to expound on certain facts about this 'wascally weed' that most of us are unaware of. I believe it will help to enlighten us all as to the potential it holds.
Kudzu is a climbing perrenial vine capable of reaching heights to 100 feet in trees, but also scrambles extensively over lower vegetation. It grows an average of one foot per day, so long term production would not be a problem. The root system reaches depths of 12 feet.
The non-woody parts of the plant are edible. Young leaves can be used for salads or as a leaf vegetable. It is high in vitamins A and C as well as calcium and protein content. The roots are rich in starch and the blooms are an excellent source of honey (also allegedy delicious when battered and deep fried). We have wonderful un-tapped potential here. Unless I have missed something (entirely possible), I am totally unaware of the existence of a Kudzu industry.
There are medicinal possibilities, as well. It can reduce the effects of both hangovers and alcohol cravings. Harvard Medical School is currently doing a study on Kudzu on alcohol related problems. It also has tremendous value as an herb.
It is very effective for erosion control and improved quality of soil. It makes excellent forage for livestock.
The downside of Kudzu is a monumental cost of five hundred million dollars annually in lost cropland and growth control costs.
BUT! If Kudzu could become organized, controlled, managed, and otherwise put to use in a positive light, rather than allowed to run rampant over power poles and trees, the economic impact could be beyond belief.
Here is the BIGGY! This is what my friend has suggested: FIND A WAY TO REFINE KUDZU AS AN ALTERNATE SOURCE OF FUEL!!! Think of the financial implications here. We would no longer be dependent on the oil barons. Chances are we wouldn't need them at all. We could tell them all to pound salt! I am sure there would be an invironmental impact, also, but I have no data on that at this time.
The re-tooling that would be necessary to re-vamp our domestic fuel industry would be a real boon to our economy. New jobs! This is absolutely mind boggling!
We could then phase out the use of corn in the manufacture of Ethanol, thereby easing production pressures on our corn farmers, which would in turn, help to stabilize the price of corn. This would then stabilize the price of barley and hops which should, in turn, help to keep the price of beer affordable (would this be the true meaning of trickle-down economics?).
Don't you find economics simply fascinating? I certainly do.