Happy to be Getting Crunchy with Corn

One of the best parts about being involved in social media is the friendships that I have developed over the years.  Gina Rau started as a virtual friend, as we worked on a blogging challenge together, and she has become a dear “real life” friend.  I adore her new website, Feed Our Families, which strives to help families make better food choices.  When I was planning to be away at a culinary conference and Gina offered to do a guest post, I jumped at the chance.  I know you’ll love it as much as I do!

We don’t buy local or organic 100% of the time, but when I go too far my husband will say, “you’re getting crunchy”. I’m sure he has plenty of fun examples that come to mind for him, that I’ve mentally blocked. He probably thought I went too far when I spent an entire weekend clearing our home of plastic items about 7 years ago, in fear of the dangers of BPA.

Some friends raised eyebrows when I saw Food, Inc. and FRESH. when they came out years ago because these messages weren’t nearly as mainstream as they are today. I’m always exposed to new ideas with these movies, and am reminded of the politics and big business of the food industry which lead me to retreat to my crunchy kitchen.

Recently my husband traveled, which gave me an opportunity to catch up on my list of movies and shows. Since it came out over two years ago, my “foodie” friends have been talking about the movie King Corn and the important messages told through this story. Guess what was readily available for me to enjoy via Netflix?

Corn Field

The documentary is about two young graduates from Boston, with family heritage in Iowa, who go there to farm one acre of corn as an experiment. While there’s interesting agricultural lessons and stories told throughout, the big messages reinforced are:

  • You’d be hard pressed to find one product in a traditional grocery store that doesn’t have corn. Corn starch, corn syrup, high fructose corn syrup, corn oil, corn fed cows, chicken, etc. that Americans buy and eat every day.
  • The average consumer eats way too much corn.  Our bodies don’t process that amount of corn well, and many of the processes that food manufacturers use are turning corn into sugars. In limited amount it may not be as harmful, but the average American is exposed to an excessive amount daily – at every meal and snack.
  • Everything in a fast food restaurant has corn. Everything.
  • If you drink one soda a day, your risk of type 2 diabetes is twice as high if you didn’t.
  • The farmers admit that the corn they grow isn’t corn that they’d ever eat. It’s cheap, poor quality corn. Much of it is genetically modified corn.
  • Our government is supporting and encouraging the over production of corn. The subsidy program rewards over-production. This makes it incredibly cheap for food manufacturers to use corn. Hence, the circle of cheap food.

One statement in the movie that said it all was, “We subsidize the happy meals but not the healthy ones”. The ubiquity of corn is likely one of the leading causes of the obesity crisis. We’re seeing the first generation of kids that have a shorter lifespan than their parents — because of the food we eat.

Today, food is cheap. The percent of income that Americans spend on feeding ourselves is lower than any other generation, and most countries.  We’ve already taken “cheap corn products” out of our family’s diet but I’m sure we’re exposed to it when we eat out. I’m thankful that the organic food manufacturers we buy from don’t use cheap preservatives and fillers in their products.

I appreciate having that choice.

Gina and her children in a corn field

Gina has a passion for healthy kids and helps empower parents to make healthier choices for their children at her new site, Feed Our Families. With her own family, she enjoys working in their backyard garden, playing with friends, taking nature walks, and chasing butterflies.

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