Why we're all children of the corn now
December 18, 2018 1:11 PM   Subscribe

I absolutely guarantee you every meal you have eaten in the last 365 days has been made with corn.
SwiftOnSecurity explains that corn's in everything.
Corn is a platform with both limitless purposes, and one purpose: to turn rural land into a dependable & infinitely fungible financial asset.
Dr Sarah Taber explains why this is so.
posted by MartinWisse (96 comments total) 60 users marked this as a favorite
 
That is horrifascinating.

Also, MALACHI!
posted by sonascope at 1:14 PM on December 18, 2018 [10 favorites]


SwiftOnSecurity is great & you should all follow her.

That is all.
posted by pharm at 1:15 PM on December 18, 2018 [12 favorites]


Ok, hit me, I had rolled oats with chopped almonds, raisins, hemp seed, chia seed, and a cup of black coffee for breakfast. Where's the corn?
posted by bq at 1:19 PM on December 18, 2018 [7 favorites]


More corn news this week: "Scientists Overhaul Corn Domestication Story With Multidisciplinary Analysis" (Smithsonian press release, via The History Blog).
posted by Wobbuffet at 1:20 PM on December 18, 2018 [1 favorite]


bq: probably in the packaging, somewhere along the line.
posted by pharm at 1:24 PM on December 18, 2018 [16 favorites]


bq, the third tweet in the thread describes the use of corn in PLA-lined plastic bags.

Is it possible any of your breakfast foodstuffs came in a bag lined with PLA, whether to you or to the store you boguht them from (if bought from bulk bins instead)?
posted by Earthtopus at 1:24 PM on December 18, 2018 [2 favorites]


I would be super-interested to know how much of this holds outside of a country whose agricultural-industrial complex is less heavily invested in (and less propped up by massive subsidies and incentives for growing) this single cereal crop.
posted by parm at 1:25 PM on December 18, 2018 [3 favorites]


I absolutely guarantee

What is this guarantee backed up with? Because my smoothie this morning was made with whole, organic foods and no corn. My grass-fed steak last night and the salad I had with it were also corn free, as will be the steak sandwich I will have for lunch. We've done a lot in our house over the last few years to remove processed foods and especially HFCS.

I know corn is in a lot of things, but can we stop the hyperbole, please?
posted by Revvy at 1:25 PM on December 18, 2018 [11 favorites]


SwiftOnSecurity is one of the things I miss about quitting Twitter.
posted by slogger at 1:27 PM on December 18, 2018 [4 favorites]


And corn, it's a diabetic's nightmare (at least Type II). After the initial blood sugar spike, as it churns away digesting, it just keeps wrecking havoc with blood sugar.
posted by WinstonJulia at 1:29 PM on December 18, 2018 [3 favorites]


What is this guarantee backed up with?

20 ears of corn, SAIT.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 1:30 PM on December 18, 2018 [47 favorites]


I've recently switched to a potato-based diet, supplemented by sauerkraut and fermented beets: delicious, nutritious, cheap, enviro-friendly.
posted by No Robots at 1:31 PM on December 18, 2018 [2 favorites]


@Revvy You're forgetting the packaging and production aspects, my friend.
posted by zerolives at 1:34 PM on December 18, 2018 [8 favorites]


who eats the packaging?
am i weird for not eating the packaging?
posted by some loser at 1:36 PM on December 18, 2018 [22 favorites]


Robert H. Lustig, MD, UCSF Professor of Pediatrics in the Division of Endocrinology, gave a lecture available via You Tube or UC TV (University of California at San Francisco Med Center) on sweets in general, but high fructose corn syrup as well. It's a horror show really. Long, long video but if you're really interested in the science, this is a great video. The conclusion- well, it's bad for you, real bad...
posted by WinstonJulia at 1:37 PM on December 18, 2018 [1 favorite]


chopped almonds

The bees that were used to pollinate the almond trees likely had their diet supplemented with corn syrup.

my smoothie this morning was made with whole, organic foods

Were any of those foods bee pollinated?

My grass-fed steak last night

The article suggests slaughterhouses increasingly sanitize their beef production lines with lactic acid produced from corn.

This is not to say "my god, we are all contaminated with the Demon Maize". More that the modern food production network involves a lot of hidden inputs, many of which are derived from a handy bulk source of pure-ish food-grade carbohydrates.
posted by jedicus at 1:38 PM on December 18, 2018 [73 favorites]


Made with corn doesn't necessarily mean it's the part that you eat.
posted by Pendragon at 1:38 PM on December 18, 2018 [19 favorites]


who eats the packaging?
am i weird for not eating the packaging?


There is practically zero chance that some chemically significant amount of the packaging material doesn't make its way into your food.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 1:39 PM on December 18, 2018 [3 favorites]


"meal that you eat has been made with corn" certainly implies that the PART i am EATING is MADE WITH (I.E. CONTAINS) corn. Words mean things.
posted by some loser at 1:39 PM on December 18, 2018 [7 favorites]


[Suggest we not spend the entire thread arguing over the word choice "made with." The point is about the unexpected places corn shows up, not about the semantics of "made with." ]
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 1:40 PM on December 18, 2018 [37 favorites]


many of which are derived from a handy bulk source of pure-ish food-grade carbohydrates.

& in U.S., the cheapest handy source of food-grade carbs is maize, mostly thanks to heavy government subsidies. Other parts of the world will use whatever carb is cheapest in their locality.
posted by pharm at 1:40 PM on December 18, 2018 [1 favorite]


We have a dear friend who goes into anaphylactic shock because of a corn allergy, so even our toilet paper is corn-free (yes, breaking out in blistering hives on private parts is a thing for people with a corn allergy).

The whole argument that corn is used in everything because it's the cheapest thing to grow so obviously it's used everywhere...is a bit circular for my taste, especially leading off with provably false statements that begin with the words I guarantee.

You're forgetting the packaging and production aspects, my friend.

That's like saying people haven't had a meal that hasn't involved gasoline for transportation without considering that they may have pulled it out of the ground themselves.

It's entirely possible - difficult, but possible - to avoid corn.
posted by Revvy at 1:43 PM on December 18, 2018 [9 favorites]


What's the deal with making a brouhaha over corn in packaging? Why is it even noteworthy?
posted by MiraK at 1:45 PM on December 18, 2018 [2 favorites]


Using (or overusing) corn seems like it's slightly better than using plastics. I consider this enlightening, but not necessarily terrible.
posted by The_Vegetables at 1:48 PM on December 18, 2018 [1 favorite]


regarding the back and forth on "packaging" - they don't mean the actual physical package. It's stuff like sliced meat dusted with corn starch to keep from sticking. Unless you went to the farm to purchase your oats, and then ground them yourself, chances are there is *some* sort of preservative / anti clumping agent that is not required to be listed, and 9 times out of 10 is manufactured from corn feed stock. Beer in a glass bottle? Nope - the 'conditioning agent' they use to keep it fizzy on the shelf is made from corn (told to us by a brewer from one of the big commercial outfits). Organic apples from the grocery store? Nope - the wax they coat it with was made from corn.

If we don't make it or know who did, we don't eat it. (and the epi pen is still nearby, just in case)
posted by cfraenkel at 1:49 PM on December 18, 2018 [24 favorites]


Even though I knew corn was in like, everything, man, some of these uses were pretty surprising to me. I am pretty bummed to find out that honey isn't honey. I didn't know that. I switched to honey in my baking a few years ago to get away from HFCS and refined sugars. I guess I have to switch from 'honey' to "honey" now.
posted by Clinging to the Wreckage at 1:52 PM on December 18, 2018 [5 favorites]


I can tell from all the takeaways of the least interesting aspects of these very interesting twitter threads that "corn free" is going to be the next "gluten free," somebody smarter than me should take this prophecy and monetize it
posted by prize bull octorok at 1:53 PM on December 18, 2018 [18 favorites]


I can tell from all the takeaways of the least interesting aspects of these very interesting twitter threads that "corn free" is going to be the next "gluten free," somebody smarter than me should take this prophecy and monetize it

What do you think the freakout over HFCS has been?

See also: grass-fed beef
posted by sideshow at 1:55 PM on December 18, 2018 [1 favorite]


2 Twitter links? Is there more evidence as to why I should believe this?
posted by agregoli at 1:56 PM on December 18, 2018


Would it hurt some of you to read the post before commenting? The entire point isn't "there are trace amounts of corn in all of your food." The point is that corn is also manufactured into myriad products that are the grease that lubricates the entire industry.

It's "made with corn" in the same way something might be "made with pride" or "made with American labor."

It's actually really interesting! Please read it!
posted by explosion at 2:00 PM on December 18, 2018 [54 favorites]


What do you think the freakout over HFCS has been?

lacking the snappy, uncomplicated branding of "corn free," that's what
posted by prize bull octorok at 2:00 PM on December 18, 2018 [6 favorites]


2 Twitter links? Is there more evidence as to why I should believe this?

I mean, there is this prior FPP if you want some more links for credentialing, but go off the domain count I guess
posted by CrystalDave at 2:05 PM on December 18, 2018 [6 favorites]


What's the deal with making a brouhaha over corn in packaging? Why is it even noteworthy?

Because, if you read Dr. Taber's body of work, the fact that corn is used in literally everything has substantial political ramifications in the United States and is fundamental to the value of trillions of dollars worth of land in this country. It's not inherently bad that we use corn for a lot of stuff, but thinking through who owns the land, who owns the business that grows the corn, who the actual human beings are who do the work, who uses the corn, who subsidizes the above parties, and who profits from these transactions is a big part of understanding who gets money and power.
posted by zachlipton at 2:11 PM on December 18, 2018 [76 favorites]


I don't buy it. I eat only olives, black pepper, and sawdust. Where's the corn in that, hmm?
posted by sfenders at 2:12 PM on December 18, 2018 [37 favorites]


Being back in Iowa, the fucking ethanol gas is 10+ cents cheaper just because the government is paying for it to be so. It's lame as hell.

You joke about sawdust, but I got some low carb tortilla shells and the fiber was basically just sawdust. It did the job!
posted by OnTheLastCastle at 2:21 PM on December 18, 2018


I don't buy it. I eat only olives, black pepper, and sawdust. Where's the corn in that, hmm?

Look carefully at the label on the sawdust; pretty much all food-grade sawdust these days uses ground corn stalks as a filler.
posted by TedW at 2:32 PM on December 18, 2018 [27 favorites]


A friend's kid is super-duper allergic to corn. It's everywhere, including all kinds of art supplies used by schools.
posted by The corpse in the library at 2:32 PM on December 18, 2018 [1 favorite]


My God, practically everything I’ve ever eaten has been sold to me by people who at some stage used or consumed corn-related products!
posted by Segundus at 2:36 PM on December 18, 2018 [3 favorites]


We need a hub for corn free goods, like that fluoride free tooth paste that unblocks your third eye.
posted by Damienmce at 2:38 PM on December 18, 2018 [1 favorite]


My God, practically everything I’ve ever eaten has been sold to me by people who at some stage used or consumed corn-related products!

The Corluminati, the Freemaizons
posted by Damienmce at 2:39 PM on December 18, 2018 [29 favorites]


Corn is a C4 plant which is a big deal as it's more efficient creating starch than most other plants are.

it's the cheapest thing to grow so obviously it's used everywhere...is a bit circular for my taste, especially leading off with provably false statements that begin with the words

Nope.

Corn grows well in places that aren't that great for anything else per the tweetstorm. Grain grown well in more arid regions and the wetness of the US midwest isn;t necessary, so they can't compete on cost. But corn needs the moisture. And nothing else that grown there can create starch as efficiently as corn.

We grow corn because it is in fact pretty unique out of every plant we've figured out so far. And because starch is really useful for lots of things. It's really interesting to dig into it all but it's not really that complex.

STARCH
posted by GuyZero at 2:44 PM on December 18, 2018 [21 favorites]


pretty much all food-grade sawdust these days uses ground corn stalks

Damn it corn, you win again. I thought I'd done enough due diligence with a web search for "sawdust corn", but this information was obscured by the larger number of results about corn and sawdust being used to make particle board. Even my kitchen table is probably made of corn.
posted by sfenders at 2:51 PM on December 18, 2018 [4 favorites]


What's the deal with making a brouhaha over corn in packaging? Why is it even noteworthy?

In part, because the amount used in packaging can set off corn allergies.

But mostly, as mentioned: because it's easy to forget how big, how invasive, the corn industry is, and considering who corn farmers mostly voted for recently, we need to be aware of that reach.
posted by ErisLordFreedom at 2:56 PM on December 18, 2018 [8 favorites]


This is very much a US thing, though, right? A hemisphere away where I am, corn has a minor role as stock food and not too much else... what about Canada and Mexico, are they sucked into the corn-industrial complex too?
posted by i_am_joe's_spleen at 3:01 PM on December 18, 2018 [2 favorites]


Next thing ya know, they'll be complainin about corn sweat.

Above should be said out loud in an "old Iowa farmer" voice.
posted by gimonca at 3:01 PM on December 18, 2018


I read the corn facts in real time as she tweeted then had a really weird sex dream involving Swift On Security last night and I'm still feeling a little awkward about it.
posted by nikaspark at 3:02 PM on December 18, 2018 [7 favorites]


This is very much a US thing, though, right?

I've been told that corn plays a similar role in France (though the person telling me this isn't particularly in a position to know).
posted by Slothrup at 3:10 PM on December 18, 2018 [1 favorite]


I’m eating Mexican corn soup with Tostitos dropped in it right now. Where’s the corn in OOPS
posted by freecellwizard at 3:10 PM on December 18, 2018 [35 favorites]


OUTLANDER! WE HAVE YOUR FOOD!
posted by cj_ at 3:12 PM on December 18, 2018 [1 favorite]


I'm gonna go home after all this and eat some cornbread. Here's my family's recipe, back to at least my great-grandmother.

2 cups Lamb's stone ground yellow cornmeal
1 tsp salt
1 egg
1/4 cup oil
1 tsp baking soda
1 cup buttermilk (can sub instant buttermilk just fine, or the ol' milk-and-lemon-juice trick)
Oven at 375F.

Mix and pour into greased muffin pan or skillet. (If you use a skillet, heat up the oil on the stove and get the skillet good and hot so when you pour the batter in, it sizzles.)

Bake 20-25 minutes for skillet, less for muffins.
posted by fiercecupcake at 3:20 PM on December 18, 2018 [17 favorites]


This is very much a US thing, though, right?

Corn is kind of a big deal in Mexico.

it's also a big deal in Canada - the third biggest crop in the country. And at 10M metic tones of maize per year Canada is still only the #11 worldwide producer. China and Brazil both produce huge amounts of corn. The EU, India, etc etc
posted by GuyZero at 3:22 PM on December 18, 2018 [5 favorites]


Also if you look at that Statistia chart lower down, ETHIOPIA produces half as much corn as Canada. Clearly I'm stuck in the 80's with vision of Ethiopian famine etc. 7M metic tones of maize produced per year. That's a lot!
posted by GuyZero at 3:24 PM on December 18, 2018


China grows way more corn than you would expect. Tomatoes, too.
posted by quaking fajita at 3:42 PM on December 18, 2018


It’s Time to Rethink America’s Corn System

Only a tiny fraction of corn grown in the U.S. directly feeds the nation’s people, and much of that is from high-fructose corn syrup

Today’s corn crop is mainly used for biofuels (roughly 40 percent of U.S. corn is used for ethanol) and as animal feed (roughly 36 percent of U.S. corn, plus distillers grains left over from ethanol production, is fed to cattle, pigs and chickens). Much of the rest is exported.
posted by Foosnark at 3:43 PM on December 18, 2018


"I read the corn facts in real time as she tweeted then had a really weird sex dream involving Swift On Security last night and I'm still feeling a little awkward about it."

Pro-tip on feeling less awkward about weird sex dreams; don't tell people about them.
posted by el io at 4:01 PM on December 18, 2018 [33 favorites]


who eats the packaging?
am i weird for not eating the packaging?


Why wouldn't you eat the packaging? That shit's delicious! It's got corn in it!
posted by webmutant at 4:09 PM on December 18, 2018 [10 favorites]


I just love threads like this that seem innocuous on their face but get all melty in the comments. That’s my metafilter.
posted by stinkfoot at 4:12 PM on December 18, 2018 [7 favorites]


The funny part for me is that Taber was the town in the part of the world I grew up in which was famous for...

...corn!
posted by clawsoon at 4:18 PM on December 18, 2018 [2 favorites]


/adds corn to the list of "things Metafilter doesn't do well"
posted by thelonius at 4:20 PM on December 18, 2018 [35 favorites]


Guy Zero: Corn is a C4 plant which is a big deal as it's more efficient creating starch than most other plants are.

Am I remembering correctly that C4 plants get even more efficient than C3 as carbon dioxide concentrations go up? Or is it the other way around?

Another C4 plant: Sugar cane.
posted by clawsoon at 4:34 PM on December 18, 2018 [3 favorites]


Am I remembering correctly that C4 plants get even more efficient than C3 as carbon dioxide concentrations go up? Or is it the other way around?

Apparently the other way around.:

" By contrast, with their adaptations, C4 plants are not as limited by carbon dioxide, and under elevated carbon dioxide levels, the growth of C4 plants did not increase as much as C3 plants. "
posted by GuyZero at 4:36 PM on December 18, 2018 [2 favorites]


Ah - it was increased temperature that made C4 even more efficient than C3. So CO2-driven global warming will have counteracting effects: Higher temperatures help C4 plants, higher CO2 levels help C3 plants.
posted by clawsoon at 4:38 PM on December 18, 2018


Although this paper says the opposite:

" Nevertheless, C4 species still exhibit positive responses (Fig. 2), particularly at elevated temperature and arid conditions where they are currently common and under nutrient-limited situations as well (Ghannoum et al., 2000, Sage & Kubien, 2003). High CO2 aggravates nitrogen limitations and in doing so may favor C4 species, which have greater photosynthetic nitrogen use efficiency (Sage & Kubien, 2003). "
posted by GuyZero at 4:38 PM on December 18, 2018


Threadreader unroll of SwiftOnSecurity's tweets

Taber's insights into what S.o.S. summarizes as "Corn is not a _food_. Corn is a _platform_." are really worth the read & ponder:
Farm landlords were grinding people to death for thousands of years before capitalism was ever invented.

Real estate's always been the ideal asset. Can be used for food, minerals, or development- and you can collect rents pretty much infinitely w zero work....

Rural landlords might collect their rent checks directly from their serfs, I mean neighbors in the county instead of a hedge fund office in Manhattan. But they've got the same job. Own land, futz around all day, profit.
Farm policy [passed 6 days ago with Buried Provision that Blocks Yemen Vote for this Congress] enables the rentier class.
posted by ASCII Costanza head at 4:38 PM on December 18, 2018 [10 favorites]


In short, as long as the midwest remains above water, they can probably grow corn.
posted by GuyZero at 4:39 PM on December 18, 2018


The thing is- in the cultures that developed and grew corn it was never THE ONLY crop. The Aztecs/Mixtec had amaranth, the eastern indigenous cultures of the United States had the three sisters (corn/bean/squash) and the Incas had Potatoes and Quinoa- all of these cultures had meat supplements and foraged supplements (dog meat and hare meat and dear meat and turkey meat/ wild nuts and seeds and acorns and cranberries and other berries etc) so corn wasn't being using as the god-king starch and so it wasn't "bad" for you. But turns out when corn is god-king starch- OOF. Not great for you. Or the planet. Or the soil. Because it was never meant to be!
posted by Homo neanderthalensis at 5:00 PM on December 18, 2018 [5 favorites]


It's difficult to parse out the effexts of HFCS versus Glucose or sucroses effect on human health. Sucrose and HFCS are pretty similar in their ratios of glucose and fructose, and certainly honey weighs in heavier with fructose. HFCS's bad reputation may not be so much as the badness of fructose, which does not increase blood sugar, with that of the accompanied glucose, which very strongly affects insulin. Fructose, on it's own, is sweeter than glucose, but given its lack of correlation to high blood glucose, there is a ton of misinformation about HFCS being linked to high blood sugar due to fructose. It's the effing glucose, which is found in non sweet foods, too, and certainly non corn foods, too. Sugar of any kind is likely to be harmful in large quantities, but fructose as the culprit is not likely the target we should be concentrating on.
posted by waving at 5:02 PM on December 18, 2018 [3 favorites]


I bet that the health effects of corn for most people depend on how rich you are when you eat it.
posted by clawsoon at 5:06 PM on December 18, 2018 [8 favorites]


adds corn to the list of "things Metafilter doesn't do well"

the main thing metafilter cannot handle, has never been able to handle, and will never be able to handle, is being told "X is a thing that everyone does and you can't really get away from doing X". even if X is breathing oxygen, the simple fact of being told "everyone breathes oxygen" will have 50 comments angrily insisting that THEY mostly breathe nitrogen ACTUALLY with demands that this be proven wrong. it's tragilarious.
posted by poffin boffin at 5:10 PM on December 18, 2018 [57 favorites]


Actually, I mostly agree with your position.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 5:12 PM on December 18, 2018 [1 favorite]


I bet that the health effects of corn for most people depend on how rich you are when you eat it.

This is so true! Corn-fed billionaires are a hundred times healthier to eat than corn-fed millionaires.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 5:15 PM on December 18, 2018 [7 favorites]


Thread Reader unroll of Dr Sarah Taber's tweet.
posted by ZeusHumms at 5:27 PM on December 18, 2018 [1 favorite]


I can tell from all the takeaways of the least interesting aspects of these very interesting twitter threads that "corn free" is going to be the next "gluten free," somebody smarter than me should take this prophecy and monetize it

It's the ketogenic diet or just low carb in general, and it's already being monetized.

There's an unsubstantiated theory going around that people who go gluten free but do feel better even without having Celiac are just getting the benefits of lower carb diets, which work really well for a lot of people.
posted by MillMan at 5:33 PM on December 18, 2018 [1 favorite]


Candy corn is made of corn . . . not sure if this is ironic.
posted by blairsyprofane at 5:50 PM on December 18, 2018 [7 favorites]


I bet global warming will cause a shift toward even more corn because corn is not a root crop, and the edible parts of root crops are carbon stores which make for higher growth rates at critical points in the season than reliance on atmospheric carbon would allow.

But atmospheric carbon, aka carbon dioxide, is increasing sharply, and in the future the big carbon stores of root crops won't be the advantage they have been, and some of our food plants won't bother with the expense of producing them. I believe something like this has already been shown in the case of cassava, which when grown in a greenhouse with CO2 levels we'll reach fairly soon, produced shockingly small amounts of starch stored in the roots.
posted by jamjam at 5:55 PM on December 18, 2018 [4 favorites]


We need a hub for corn free goods

I know, let's call it CornHub. ...no, wait
posted by Ender's Friend at 6:38 PM on December 18, 2018 [15 favorites]


Since a good part of my meals are tortilla chips and tacos I don't need to read this.
posted by bongo_x at 8:37 PM on December 18, 2018 [2 favorites]


We're busy fretting about agribusiness and food processing, meanwhile real live land barons are out here collecting rent & subsidy checks on millions of acres and using it as low-risk ballast for their portfolios.

Harvard Quietly Amasses California Vineyards—and the Water Underneath - "Harvard's endowment is arbitraging our collective inaction on climate change, buying up water rights in California to prepare for coming long-term megadroughts." ("It's like Chinatown, only real and right now.")
posted by kliuless at 1:23 AM on December 19, 2018 [9 favorites]


[One deleted. If you'd like to make a Metatalk post, that's perfectly okay!]
posted by taz (staff) at 1:44 AM on December 19, 2018


For political impact, consider the importance of the Iowa Presidential caucuses.
posted by aurelian at 2:41 AM on December 19, 2018 [2 favorites]


As to other countries, I remind everyone of Men of Maize, the novel by Nobel-winning Miguel Angel Asturias of Guatemala.
posted by aurelian at 2:48 AM on December 19, 2018


oh and speaking of the 'land baron' mentality extending well past industrial monopolists to 'platform' services rent extractors, see: "The 'college racket', as described by a college CEO in the WSJ today:"
Mr. Daniels kicks off our conversation with a morality tale: “I’ll speak to an audience of businesspeople and say: Here’s the racket that you should have gone into. You’re selling something, a college diploma, that’s deemed a necessity. And you have total pricing power.” Better than that: “When you raise your prices, you not only don’t lose customers, you may actually attract new ones.”

For lack of objective measures, “people associate the sticker price with quality: ‘If school A costs more than B, I guess it’s a better school.’ ” A third-party payer, the government, funds it all, so that “the customer—that is, the student and the family—feels insulated against the cost. A perfect formula for complacency.” The parallels with health care, he observes, are “smack on.”[1,2]
posted by kliuless at 2:56 AM on December 19, 2018 [2 favorites]


the main thing metafilter cannot handle, has never been able to handle, and will never be able to handle, is being told "X is a thing that everyone does and you can't really get away from doing X".

It's the framing - yes, if you live in America then corn (or as the Indians call it, maize) is in everything, but here in northern Europe we don't grow it, fewer foods have added sugar of any kind, HFCS is subject to an EU production quota meaning the EU produces roughly 60 times more sugar than HCFS each year, and there are much stricter rules about things like how meat can be processed (leading to "chlorinated chicken" being used as a bogeyman by the Remain side in Britain who fear their food standards will be driven down by a hypothetical UK-USA trade pact post-EU).
posted by kersplunk at 3:00 AM on December 19, 2018 [4 favorites]


All your weird sex dreams have corn in them.
posted by condour75 at 5:02 AM on December 19, 2018 [5 favorites]


This is so true! Corn-fed billionaires are a hundred times healthier to eat than corn-fed millionaires.

Only a hundred times? I guess that's diminishing returns for you...
posted by Dysk at 5:18 AM on December 19, 2018 [2 favorites]


MillMan: There's an unsubstantiated theory going around that people who go gluten free but do feel better even without having Celiac are just getting the benefits of lower carb diets, which work really well for a lot of people.

My personal half-baked theory is an extension of that: Any diet which makes eating complicated - is there gluten in it? is there anything from an animal in it? is there corn in it? is there [insert ingredient that's in lots of things in non-obvious ways] in it? - discourages people from eating by making eating an exhausting detective investigation. For most overfed Westerners, moderating calorie intake has a net positive effect on health. For some people, of course, restricting calories is unhealthy, but there are fewer of them so the average effect is positive.
posted by clawsoon at 5:46 AM on December 19, 2018 [9 favorites]


“Corn is a platform” is one of those insights like when you suddenly see an optical illusion flip states. Really interesting thread.
posted by lucidium at 11:56 AM on December 19, 2018 [4 favorites]


I wish folks would read the twitter thread and have a discussion on land use, land owners, political impact, etc. which is the interesting part.
posted by evening at 12:57 PM on December 19, 2018 [4 favorites]


so corn wasn't being using as the god-king starch and so it wasn't "bad" for you
In a lot of places it was the primary starch, but they'd also figured out ways to deal with pellagra, for the most part, which is the main epidemiological issue with corn, ignoring all the other issues.

Also Cornhub was def. a thing that happened.
posted by aspersioncast at 3:45 PM on December 19, 2018 [1 favorite]


2007 documentary King Corn (Previously)
posted by larrybob at 4:15 PM on December 19, 2018


Farm landlords were grinding people to death for thousands of years before capitalism was ever invented.

Farm landlords were a race of giants, who ground people and their bones to make their bread. What kind of bread, you may ask? Cornbread!
posted by Sparx at 8:05 PM on December 19, 2018 [2 favorites]


I'm allergic to corn. It's easier to avoid in Europe and Australia (the distilled vinegar is generally not made from corn and I don't have to make my ketchup from scratch) but they are by no means corn-free zones. Cornstarch still turns up in a number of places. And the US is working hard to force countries to take more. I know that in 2017 the restrictions on HFCS (called glucose-fructose syrup in Europe) were going to be lifted; I don't know if that came to pass.

As part of the allergy I cut HFCS (and all CS) out of my diet. It did not make me skinnier.
posted by rednikki at 2:27 PM on December 20, 2018


My personal half-baked theory is an extension of that: Any diet which makes eating complicated - is there gluten in it? is there anything from an animal in it? is there corn in it? is there [insert ingredient that's in lots of things in non-obvious ways] in it? - discourages people from eating by making eating an exhausting detective investigation.

I think a more likely version of this is that any diet whatsoever causes people to pay more attention to what they are eating and paying attention to what you eat usually leads to healthier eating than not paying attention.
posted by straight at 3:22 PM on December 24, 2018 [1 favorite]


A photosynthetic update: Synthetic glycolate metabolism pathways stimulate crop growth and productivity in the field.
The team engineered three alternate routes to replace the circuitous native pathway. To optimize the new routes, they designed genetic constructs using different sets of promoters and genes, essentially creating a suite of unique roadmaps. They stress tested these roadmaps in 1,700 plants to winnow down the top performers.

Over two years of replicated field studies, they found that these engineered plants developed faster, grew taller, and produced about 40 percent more biomass, most of which was found in 50-percent-larger stems.
posted by clawsoon at 2:44 PM on January 4


While I'm sure this is a great advance, it doesn't seem like the kind of thing the anti-GMO crowd will go for.
posted by GuyZero at 3:20 PM on January 4




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