Tuesday, October 25, 2011

A—MAIZE—ing: Corn, high fructose corn syrup in soda and everywhere else

I'm here to introduce the triumph of the plant world: Zea mays or, as we commonly know it, corn. Corn was, in many ways, what separated successful villages or colonies from those that dwindled or faded out of existence. This is because corn can be used as both a commodity and a food source.

Even while venturing through the grocery store today, corn is a lot more than a cob — it's in the canyons of breakfast cereals, shelves of snacks and canopies of soft drinks.

In America convenience is critical. Let'shead to the processed food isle, where we find chicken nuggets. A chicken nugget piles corn upon corn: What chicken is contained consists of corn, including modified corn starch that acts as an adhesive — holding the chicken together — the corn flour in the batter that coats the nugget and the corn oil in which it is cooked. Then you have the leavenings and lecithin, the mono-, di- and triglycerides, the attractive golden coloring and even the citric acid, which keeps the nugget "fresh." This can all be derived from corn.

To wash down your chicken nuggets with virtually any soft drink, you can have some corn with your corn.

In 1984, Pepsi and Coca-Cola announced plans to stop using sugar in soft drinks, replacing the sweetener with high fructose corn syrup. After water, corn sweetener is now both drinks' No. 2 ingredient. Grab a beer instead and you'd still be drinking corn, in the form of alcohol, fermented from glucose and refined from corn.

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