Beware the "Methane-Trapping-Hog Farm-Exploding Mystery Foam!" Seriously, no joke!
The Midwest produces a lot of hogs. Iowa is the top leading state in hog production and Minnesota is the third. A few years ago, a mysterious foam had been discovered growing in Midwestern hog farms. Weird, right? Well, just wait--it gets weirder. Take a look at the "foam" taken from a screen shot of an ABC news report on February 10, 2012 below:
Now, it gets even weirder: this "gelatin-like material" can grow, reaching 4 feet high and traps gases, such as methane, causing catastrophic explosions when a spark ignites. If it wasn't for the numerous news articles that have written about this strange story, I would have thought that this came straight out of a science fiction short story.
According to a report by the Minnesota Daily, there have been about a half dozen barns in the Midwest that have exploded since the foam discovery in 2009. In mid-September 2011, a barn in Iowa had exploded, causing 1,5000 hogs to die and injured a worker.
Even though we live over a thousand miles away from the Midwest, we should be worried. NC may not stand anywhere close to Iowa and Minnesota geographically, but we are ranked second in hog production which means we are sitting right in the middle between the two Midwestern states that have lost millions of dollars due to the mysterious foam-exploding hog farms. Are we next?
Researchers from the University of Minnesota are now looking into what may be causing the methane-trapping, hog-exploding foam. The cause of the foam is still unknown. Thoughts have leaned towards the possibility of a new species of bacteria that has evolved within manure pits in recent years. Researchers have also noticed a correlation between increasing the feeding amount of dried distillers grains (a byproduct of ethanol production, which happens to be loaded with antibiotics) and the foam.
I am already weary of the meat I consume and question where it comes from. I don't know about you, but even if you eat your little heart out in all the meat you hold, I would be concerned about it coming from a farm which also happens to house a mysterious growing foam that also happens to cause explosions. I also want to know what this may mean for our waters? There are already concerns with what happens to hog lagoons when hurricanes hit and flooding events occur...What about an on-site explosion?! Hopefully, researchers can get to the bottom of this while it is isolated in Minnesota and Iowa before this alien-like substance forms in one of our state's many manure pits. I would hate to say it, but we would be "pit" out of luck.