Just the thought of corn right off the grill makes my mouth water. I can feel the juicy kernels popping between my teeth, taste the sweet butter and salt, and smell the squeeze of lime and Parmesan cheese that turn this simple, seasonal food into one of dimension.
Corn is the ultimate summer food… or is it? Recently I was distressed, devastated and disgusted to learn about corn’s dirty little secret. Corn is no longer the cherubic vegetable I have always adored. Did you know it’s not fully considered a food anymore? As of the late 1990’s corn is not regulated by the USDA….it’s now in the hands of the EPA!
The Environmental Protection Agency regulates our food? In the case of corn, this is true in a twisted and alarming way. In the mid-1990’s an insecticide was engineered into the DNA of the corn seed. This means that as a corn plant grows, it releases its own insecticide, and is thus no longer classified as a food, but as the insecticide. No tests have been done to prove that the consumption of the new corn is safe. It’s all merely a functional convergence of science and commerce, at the expense of our long-term health.
The Plot Thickens
This revelation makes me nervous and nauseous at the same time. Think of an apple. We can wash it in warm water with a produce-friendly soap and the pesticides run down the drain. In the case of corn, the toxin lives within the kernel. You can try to avoid eating corn, but think of all the foods we consume that contain corn-derived ingredients. Besides, the absurdity doesn’t end with corn. You might be familiar with the beef situation in the United States. Farmers who’ve been injecting their cows with rBGH and rBST hormones have been ‘outed’, and the public is now encouraged to look for labels stating that the dairy they’re buying is not only grass-fed, but free of these synthetics that have been linked to breast, colon and prostate cancers.
The New Normal
So what can WE do as consumers without a lot of time to spend? For one thing, aim to eat what’s in season and buy local produce whenever applicable. Additionally, ask the farmers at the green markets you attend about their corn. But also, become vigilant about other foods you bring into your household. The dirty dozen list of fruits and vegetables should now overlap into the dairy and protein departments. Processed foods should be avoided, and you should strongly consider from whom you order take-out.
Safety is in Our Own Hands
Could this get confusing, overwhelming, and a bit expensive? Unfortunately, yes. But our health is worth the effort, the cost, and a commitment to continued education. Canada, Great Britain, Australia, Japan, New Zealand and all 27 EU nations are forward-thinking enough not to allow GMO’s to be farmed in or imported into their countries. It’s heartbreaking that in the U.S., a country where you’re innocent until proven guilty, manufacturers of GMO’s have been able to abuse the system. The likely result is the deteriorated health and wellbeing of our citizens, and ever-increasing healthcare expenses. The new model is….you are now on your own when it comes to being responsible for what goes into your body, even when you’re attempting to eat nutritiously.
Where to Begin
Take some time to educate yourself. This simple website is a good starting point. You can also search for safe products here. Become familiar with the NO GMO stamps. Buy organic and local. Keep your eyes open for relevant articles. Reinvent your outlook on food. Protect your family and yourself.