Anyone who’s read The Omnivore’s Dilemma — or seen the documentary King Corn, based on the first part of Michael Pollan’s book — knows that maize is in everything. Along with soy and wheat, it’s one of the biggest monocrops out there, primarily used as livestock feed.
While there’s nothing wrong with corn itself, the type of corn grown in order to make high-fructose corn syrup, corn starch, ethanol and so on — usually something like Monsanto’s genetically modified and potentially toxic MON863 — is a definite problem.
In its many forms, this crappy corn can be a sweetener, a binder, a humectant, an anti-caking agent and a thickener. In fact, to quote Wikipedia‘s entry on the subject, it can even be used for making highly flammable and explosive jellies (who knew?).
But aside from the health issues surrounding it, monocrops like Zea Mays are just not cool from an environmental standpoint. They lead to the depletion of nutrients in the soil, weeds and infestations, which in turn lead to higher doses of harmful pesticides.
As Pollan said in an interview not so long ago, corn is overproduced, “and [The U.S. government] subsidizes this overproduction. We structure the subsidies to make corn very, very cheap, which encourages farmers to plant more and more to make the same amount of money. The argument is that it helps us compete internationally [but] the great beneficiaries are the processors that are using corn domestically. We’re subsidizing obesity. We’re subsidizing the food-safety problems associated with feedlot beef. It’s an absolutely irrational system … The USDA is not thinking about public health, the USDA is thinking about getting rid of corn.”
Well, now I’m thinking about getting rid of corn — or rather, not buying it in the first place. Other than the nutritious, organic variety, there’ll be no more of this monocrop in my pantry, in my personal care products or in anything I purchase.
Comic courtesy of the fantabulous Miss Natalie Dee