Friday, August 24, 2007


So I never really thought of corn more than what it was: on the cob in the summer, growing up eating it creamed from the can, occasionally sprinkled in chili, etc. Corn itself is not bad, especially in moderation (as most anything in excess can be a problem). However, The Omnivore's Dilemma has taught me much about corn's development in the past 75 years.

I kind of feel like I did in college in learning about the prison industrial complex (where big business enters the prison to utilize cheap labor, which isn't all that bad except when the people who once held those jobs are displaced, similar to corporations taking their businesses to other countries to take advantage of cheap labor). I am certainly looking forward to our book club's discussion on this topic, it usually broadens the scope of what we read, opening up or challenging the ideas that the author may have left out.

Back to corn. It used to be a regular crop on the farm, having its place among the other vegetables and grains and livestock. However, as technology advanced (i.e. tractors) certain aspects of the farm were eliminated (i.e. livestock used to farm the land and their feed), thus opening up room for more of a crop that is easy to grow and make money from. With the increase in corn production and change in government agriculture policies, the price of corn declined. Instead of producing less, farmers produced more corn to make up for the lost revenue. During this time production also increased due to the new application of chemicals

(aka fertilizer) to the farmland. Chemistry also allowed the corn kernel itself to be made into the better, more durable, more resistant crop. Now, corn in the grocery store is fine, but I never realized all the other places that it goes: to the cattle industry (corn is cheaper and fattens the cattle much faster than their previous grass/grain diet) and to the food processor (or whatever they call it) to be turned into the most chemically advanced things that are in almost everything that we use (from fuel to breakfast cereal to laundry detergent).

I know that there are probably lots of things that have been chemically altered and aided that we consume, but at present corn and its derivatives are what I'm learning about. Since there really is a lot of processed food in our refrigerator (from the whole wheat bread to the ketchup), I'd really just like to be more aware of it. It kind of feels like when you first learn about the sovereignty of God or even endtimes theology, you realize how much more there is to learn about things you either didn't think about or didn't know there was MORE to even think about.

Anyway, I guess I'm not saying that corn is bad, but I never knew how much it has impacted the culture that we live in. Really, take a look at this book. I'm only a third of the way through now and am very curious to see what else he'll be talking about.


stef said...

Wow! Very informative, thanks! I like to have the mindset (as you do) that we can't live our lives in constant fear and worry about what's in our food, household cleaners, etc... and we do need to leave a large part of that up to just trusting God. BUT, I also (as you) agree that if we can do something about it, without becoming freaks :) then let's do it! Sure there are other things that have been chemically altered and sure you might be using/eating them. But this you found out about. It was brought to your attention and it will be better off for your family if you don't use it.
So, good for you! We don't eat much corn around here, mostly because I don't like it. :) But, I'm sure its mixed in quite a bit of the food we eat. I have these same issues with meat and milk, Sara. Don't get me started on those two products. :) Thanks again for the post!

Jules said...

I'm almost done, but am stuck in the section on Grass as my first trimester sleepies keep getting the better of me. But yes, it is a fascinating book that has really opened my eyes up to a lot of things. We have altered our eating styles recently (especially after the chapter on what they feed cows, yikes!), but it's been serving well and enjoyed by all. I found this book to be a great read.