Monday, August 07, 2006

Ditching Corn

After reading The Omnivore's Dilemma, I've decided to try to ditch corn products from my diet for a month. Americans use over a ton of corn per person every year, most of it in the forms of meat (nearly all meat animals are finished on corn), milk (same as fro the meat), and corn syrup. (45.2 pounds per year--almost as much as per-capita sugar consumption). Plus, there are lots of other things that come from corn--citric acid, lactic acid, glucose, fructose, maltodextrin, ethanol, sorbitol, mannitol, xanthan gum, dexrin, cyclodextrin, MSG, and of course corn starch--that get incorporated into food products. Just go to your pantry and read a few ingredient lists--you'll find something that's got way too much corn products in it. I bought some barbeque sauce yesterday (to go with the cabrito--yes, I did get lazy.), and the number two ingredient was corn syrup. Why is there corn syrup in barbeque sauce? That's confusing, and it's intuitively not right.

In addition, corn isn't very good for the environment--there's a huge dead zone in the Gulf of Mexico where no fish live, caused by algae growth, caused by fertilizer runoff, caused by corn growers in the upper Mississippi watershed. Corn farmers struggle to get by, because the price of corn is so low, because so much is produced, because the government subsidizes it. And corn is one of the worst monocultures of them all, crowding out all the other crops (and the checkered roosters).

That's why I'm trying to avoid stuff packed with corn-extracts for the next month. I don't think it will be that hard, because I'm already on a diet, so I'm not eating anything sweet, and I am eating lots of fresh fruits and veggies. I will have to stop drinking diet cokes, and I will have to decide what to do for sauce on my cabrito.

Here are my rules:
  1. Don't eat anything with corn syrup in it.
  2. Don't eat anything with other corn chemicals in it.
  3. Eating things named after corn is OK. Sweet corn, cornbread, corn tortillas, corn liquor, and the like are acceptable. Not that I drink corn liquor, but I could, if I wanted to.
  4. I shouldn't eat corn-fed animals, or at least animals that don't normally eat corn. That would make me have grass- fed beef, but allow corn-fed hogs and chickens. However, I would have to figure out how to get pastured beef, which may be too hard for this spur-of-the-moment plan. Plus, I have a brisket in the freezer I want to cook soon.
  5. Ditto for the milk.
I'll report back on this in a week or so. I'm sure that all three of my regular readers will be on the edges of their seats.

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