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.

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