Thursday, September 24, 2009

Go Judge White!

This article came through my inbox. And I must say, I'm proud of my native San Francisco Bay Area heritage today, as apparently it is in the SF BA that common sense regarding genetically modified seeds seems to be actually happening.

I don't want GM sugar beets. Or alfalfa.
And I don't think anyone else does either. Remember that beets can be used to make white sugar. Which, although my husband is currently avoiding, is a very tasty part of our otherwise limited diet.

Genetic modifications have been linked to the rise in corn allergies in the 80's. (Think Starlink scandal.) It hasn't been mainstream long enough for true long term affects to be documented and studied. However, we do know that once it's out there, it's impossible to withdraw due to drift and pollination issues. Now that GM plants have been introduced to the world, they are infiltrating the rest of the crops.

It's like a bad science fiction movie. Except we're actually living the intro.

Monday, September 21, 2009


It's something you take for granted.
You know, especially when you have a working dishwasher. Sure, it's a pain. But, you rinse off the worst of those dishes, fill up the little cache, and close the door. Push the econo setting, and you're good to go. By the time you're done with the days errands, or have a good night's sleep, the dishwasher will be full of clean shiny dishes.
And all of them will be safe for you to eat off of.

They won't make you sick.

Unless you have a corn allergy.

If you do have a corn allergy (or other unique situation), that steam that erupts from a freshly finished dishwasher when the door is opened is misleading. Sure, the dishes are sterile. But a fine residue remains. This residue leaves the dishes spotless, without little water marks. Makes them easier to clean later. Is perfectly harmless to humans.

Unless, of course, you happen to have the aforementioned corn allergy.

I had found a safe dishwashing detergent. I'd argued my way through a few manufacturers, with that whole "Well, you aren't supposed to eat it..." discussion, and settled on Kirkland signature powdered dishwasher detergent. The Costco guy was very helpful. Very kind. He called and checked on everything, taking a list of suspect ingredients.

And then, 2 years later, they simply stopped making it. And the new "Environmentally friendly" version lists citric acid as a key ingredient. Citric Acid, as many of you know, is notoriously connected to corn allergy reactions (regardless of whether or not any protein remains.)

I don't know about you, but eating is enough of a gamble for me. I don't need to be afraid of the soap I stick in my dishwasher, too.

So I'm off to seek a safer alternative. Especially since we're now completely out of the "old" detergent. And the friendly Costco guy has yet to respond to me emails about the new stuff...
Hey, maybe it is "Just Stress". Stressing about coming in contact with surprise corn (and the subsequent surprise 6 week recovery period) certainly doesn't help.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Life with a corn allergy has opened my eyes to a lot of things in this world. I knew that the food supply was less than perfect, and that the Standard American Diet really was a bit SAD. However, I thought it was "normal". There were government agencies in place to take care of us.

In the end, it really couldn't be that bad.

But now...Well, now I wonder. There's corn in this, and that, and yes, even that. Eggs, still in the shell, aren't even safe if they've been washed in a corny solution or if the chickens they came from were fed xanthophylls. And yet the FAAN still says that they are not advocating for the corn allergic community because the FDA does not consider corn a true allergen.

My daughter's migraines have introduced me to the world of area I'd like to keep my head in the sand regarding. The doctors caution that there aren't a lot of studies to back up what they, and I, are seeing. But there's no doubt that blue dye makes my daughter pale, pained and nausous. And there's no doubt in my mind that artificial coloring may play a part in the increased 4 A epidemics.

Anyways, while I've always known there were problems in the world, now I'm forced to do something about them. And I thought I'd make a list for those who have it in the back of their mind that they'd like to do the ubiquitous something, they just feel too overwhelmed to know where to start.

Of course the most important step is to simply make a choice. Where are your values? What do you want to change? The second is to look at where your money goes.

The fact of the matter is, if you agree that there is too much corn in our food supply, the only way that it's going to change is if you stop buying corn. You don't have to do it like I do. You don't have to be corn Kosher. But you can choose the bread without high fructose corn syrup, or corn starch, or cornmeal.

Avoiding petrochemicals is even easier, and you won't run into a corn growers association's PSA trying to convince you that petrochemicals are not only safe, but actually nourishing. Most people will be on your side. They either find food colorings to be harmless but probably not good, or they think they're a necessary evil. Something you can't do anything about.

But we can do something. In Europe, parents refused to buy food for their kids that had been colored with questionable additives. And guess what? Companies like Walmart and Kraft did something. They took the additives out of the food.

If they can do it for European kids, they can do it for Americans.
If they can do it for petrochemicals, they can do it for corn. (It might take a little bit more work, and a bit more economic adjustment, though. There's a dietary revolution coming, whether we like it or not. For our grandparents, the revolution took society into the world of "clean" processed, industrialized canned food. For our children or grandchildren, it will be a return to gardening and local farming. There's just no way that our world can survive if we continue this lopsided industrial farming approach.)

So, choose the better brand even when it costs a small amount more. And write to your favorite brands to tell them why you did or didn't choose to buy them. They will probably respond with a form letter and coupons (Which is a good enough reason to write, sometimes) but if they get enough feedback asking for change, they'll change.

There you go. Two semi painless steps. Buy what you, the consumer, want to have available. Merchandisers follow Darwin's laws...Use it (buy it) or lose it.

What do I think is the most important goal?
Full disclosure. I want to know what's in everything I put in my body, from farm fresh produce to the excipients used in blood pressure medication. Chemical breakdowns are nice, but they don't tell me sources and they don't give the American people the info they need to make informed choices. In a world where we can't logistically each farm our own land, slaughter our own meats, and grind our own grain, I don't think knowing whats in the products we buy is too much to ask.