Editorial: Unleaded and unloved
Unleaded & unloved
Could the South’s much maligned kudzu vine help offer relief at the gas pump?
Researchers at the University of Toronto and the U.S. Department of Agriculture think it’s possible. They say that “the plant that ate the South” is a rich source of the kind of carbohydrate that can be converted into ethanol, just like corn. Writing in the journal “Biomass and Bioenergy,” the researchers say kudzu might even produce more biofuel per acre than corn, which could help lower the price of grain-based foods as well as wean us away from our dependence on petroleum.
There’s just one hitch, however. It isn’t the lush green foliage of kudzu that yields the most carboyhdrates but its deep starchy roots. Even though kudzu covers extensive swaths of our rural landscapes, harvesting the roots on a wide scale could be prohibitively expensive, not to mention all the barns that might be toppled in the process. Plus, drivers might worry that after filling up, they’d have to hack their way back into the car with a machete.