NCDNER: Famine trumps protection of Great Dismal

“Hoping to cash in on the famine [in countries such as Ethiopia and Bangladesh was] Malcolm McLean, a North Carolina native who’d made a fortune from his trucking business. In 1974 McLean shelled out $60 million for 375,000 acres in eastern North Carolina where he planned to grow corn and feed a million hogs a year. ‘It’s a question of supply and demand,’ explained one of McLean’s employees. ‘People are starving. It’s just like the energy crisis except that people are going to find it difficult to wait in line for food.’

“McLean’s First Colony Farm (named for its proximity to the settlement established by Sir Walter Raleigh) bore ‘the same relation to a farm that a computer does to an abacus,’ observed a newspaper reporter….

“Environmentalists pounced, and rightly so. First Colony occupied a large chunk of the Dismal Swamp, an environmentally complex area between the Pamlico and Albemarle sounds. But no one in state government was inclined to stop the project, because, explained an official with the state’s Department of Natural and Economic Resources, ‘The food crisis is up and coming, and I guess the feeling is that it’s just not good to stop and do an environmental study when it will take so long and cost so much.’ ”

— From “In Meat We Trust: An Unexpected History of Carnivore America” by Maureen Ogle (2013)