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Power And Peanut Butter

I bought a jar of natural peanut butter to make sandwiches on a recent bicycling vacation. Without the extra chemicals, the oil and peanut paste separated at room temperature, then solidified when it cooled. The stuff had to be heated and then stirred before I could spread it.

Few would go to such trouble in order to, well, I don�t really know what I was hoping to accomplish. Some vague sense of health and environmentalism I guess.

And I�m not alone.

Americans buy $15 billion of organic food a year, and Kentucky farmers help supply that fast-growing market. The �Growing Organic� story in this issue profiles some of the Kentuckians producing food without chemical fertilizer or pesticides.

Kentucky agriculture can also change the world by growing fuel for your car. Crops can be turned into ethanol and added to gasoline. A Hopkinsville processing plant already makes the chemical, with another under construction near Fulton.

Ethanol turns out to be like so many energy issues. At first it presents an elegant solution: turn corn into gasoline.

Then closer examination reveals complexities. Should we use food for fuel with so many undernourished people in the world? Some analysts argue that ethanol adds up to a bad energy balance�that more energy gets used growing and converting crops to fuel than it produces running a car.

On the other hand, ethanol promises jobs, markets for farmers, and less dependence on foreign oil.

You can read about those pros and cons, and where Kentucky fits into the ethanol industry in this month�s feature.

Few energy issues get as complicated as nuclear power. With Kentucky�s strong use of nearby coal keeping electric rates lower than other states, the nuclear power debate doesn�t directly affect us. But elsewhere, energy planners are taking a serious look at what nuclear might add to the nation�s power supply.

Read about the atom energy debate in the Future of Electricity column, �What�s new with nuclear power,� in this issue.

As a member-owner of your local electric co-op, you need to know something about all these topics. The future depends on how we act on everything from ethanol and nuclear power to stirring up peanut butter.

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