Corn is coming to get us

I checked out the documentary King Corn from the library and watched it last night. I liked it. I learned a lot. As a result, I might change some of what I purchase and eat. But I don't feel brow-beaten. The two dudes in the movie, Ian Cheney and Curt Ellis, don't have a holier-than-thou self-righteous thing going on, like "corn is BAAAD and you are bad for eating corn-based products." They just show what it takes to grow the average acre of corn these days, and where the corn goes after harvest. The answer: it is processed into ethanol (not food, so not discussed in detail), high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) or animal feed. Neither of the latter are really necessary or healthy parts of our diet, unless you consider cheapness a necessity. HFCS is just empty calories. Corn-fed beef is apparently higher in saturated fat than grass-fed beef, for one thing. Also, cows aren't really supposed to eat just corn... or be fattened up in confinement... or eaten regularly for $1 a burger... and so forth.

Anyway, these guys actually eat McDonald's food onscreen, so they are definitely not preachy. They act kind of earnest and starry-eyed and sweet. I like that they wear ties when visiting important official-type people. They seem to enjoy stop-motion sequences involving corn kernels and Fisher Price farm toys. Instead of fancy Al-Gore-PowerPoint figures, they demonstrate various facts and figures just using markers and big pieces of paper. It was a little painful to watch them trying to eat the "cow corn" that they were growing. (I get their point, but where I come from one wouldn't even pretend to eat that stuff.) The movie is very effective and yet quite PG (no slaughter onscreen THANK YOU). I recommend it.

Afterward I went through our kitchen cupboards to read labels and look for corn, particularly HFCS. Here's what we had that contained corn:
  • corn starch and popcorn, obviously (I let these stand)
  • generic apricot preserves (threw this out)
  • Chinese takeout soy sauce packets (threw them out)
  • Girl Scout cookies (uhh... did not throw these out)
  • Worcestershire sauce (kept it, but will look for some hippie alternative)
  • Bob's Red Mill 10-grain pancake mix (kept it, I guess you gotta get those 10 grains from somewhere)
  • every box of cereal (not a surprise, though I want to start eating more oatmeal)
Also, there's some ground beef in the freezer; I'm not sure if it's corn-fed or not. Probably it is because it is not labeled "grass-fed" or otherwise. Resolution: try to get grass-fed beef more often (or just avoid beef completely).

I was pretty proud of us having very little "hidden" corn. Most of our sweet stuff is sweetened with sugar. Now I wonder how horrible is the sugar industry? Everything in moderation I guess, whether it's good or bad or in between.

1 comment:

Alice said...

ooooh! I like this. I had an argument with someone about how HFCS was in fact "bad." they said it's harmless and just as bad as sugar--I think I then used the argument about how it's made and transported and IN everything. I felt I'd won the argument but I think maybe I should have told the person to watch KING CORN.
Also-I remember something about grass-fed beef being cooked differently. The details escape me though. I think I'll google that.