What’s the problem with corn?

Corn Tortillas

Sandrine’s Introduction:

One problem with corn is that while it is ubiquitous, it is generally indigestible. I love corn on the cob but, know from first hand experience that unless corn is traditionally prepared through a process known as nixtamalization, corn passes right through me unassimilated. For those who are comfortable eating grains, I highly recommend sprouted corn tortillas made by Food for Life. Raine writes about how corn and oil in food production is harming our health:

By Author Raine Saunders:

Put aside your purely sentimentalist views about corn, including your ideal Sunday dinner on the farm. Corn is in everything we eat … from meat to cereals to drinks to coffee, from breads to pasta, from the McDonald’s meal you grab in the drive-through to so-called “organic” eggs. In fact, in the average grocery store, of more than 45,000 “foods”, a quarter are comprised of some type of corn. The use of so much corn has driven up the amount of petroleum needed to transport it by millions of barrels per year.

All About Corn

Corn is not inherently a harmful plant. But in most forms you will find it, it is indigestible. Unless it has been grown organically and soaked, sprouted, and cooked in an alkaline solution – usually limewater, and then hulled as our ancestors did – and most corn on the market is not, it is generally unsafe to eat. So why, then, is it being used in foods we eat, and why so pervasively? In Michael Pollan’s book, The Omnivore’s Dilemma, we are told in expert detail how the oil and corn industries together with the FDA are largely responsible for damage to the environment as well as many major health problems in modern society.

Each bushel of industrial corn grown, Pollan notes, uses the equivalent of up to a third of a gallon of oil. Some of the oil products evaporate and acidify rain; some seep into the water table; some wash into rivers, affecting drinking water and poisoning marine ecosystems. The industrial logic also means vast farms that grow only corn. When the price of corn drops, the solution, the farmer hopes, is to plant more corn for next year. The paradoxical result? While farmers earn less, there’s an over-supply of cheap corn, and that means finding ever more ways to use it up. You can learn more about this issue in the documentary Food Inc.

This disturbing truth supports the idea that we are a community of sick and starving people who are not receiving adequate nutritional support to keep our bodies functioning properly and feeling well. Corn and other carbohydrate-based crops are processed beyond recognition to produce many of the foods sold and which we eat. We have completely lost touch with consuming whole, real foods that humans need to be healthy and are a junk-food, convenience-based nation.

What About Chips, Crackers and Pasta? 

You will read the labels and will be told by a good number of them that they are “whole grains”.  A majority of these staple items contain processed, enriched flours and corn as primary ingredients. These products are not whole grains and they are not healthy to eat. Natural farming takes a back seat to factory and industrialized processes which destroy the integrity of whole foods that are a necessity to people and animals alike. Have we been lied to? You bet.

The FDA has approved the license to sell and consumption of all these foods that are making us sick, and causing an enormous rise in the cost of health care, oil, and many products that we use and depend on each day. Most significantly, our health conditions are in serious jeopardy with heart disease, high blood pressure, and cancer among the top five reasons for death – all greatly contributed to by the power of the FDA and these bloated industries’ abilities to affect the content of the food we eat.

It is inconceivable that in a world where corn is so plentiful and readily available that it is not used more pervasively as an alternative fuel to oil. Unfortunately, there are politicians, special interest groups, and lobbyists working night and day to prevent this from occurring. Some would have us believe that removing corn from the food supply would actually cause mass starvation and loss of industry jobs. How can this be true when the corn most people buy is not really food in the first place? Farmers could still continue to make a living growing corn for fuel alternatives just as they do now harvesting it for food.

For further reading on non-GMO movement fuels, visit this site: Sustainable Food News.

For further reading on the topic of processed foods, we recommend the following books via our Amazon affiliation:

Fast Food Nation by Eric Schlosser

Pandora’s Lunchbox by Melanie Warner

What do you think about this?

Please note that we serve as an affiliate for Amazon, in addition to allied organizations and individuals whose products and/or serves we recommend. In some cases, we receive referral bonuses or commissions for our promotional efforts. This enables us to sustain our educational efforts.
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Filed under Renewable Resources, Sustainable Practices, What is a healthy diet?

8 responses to “What’s the problem with corn?

  1. Garima

    I think everybody should read this! I love corn on the cob, but I absolutely do not want corn hidden in other foods I eat! The documentary food inc is truly well made and an eye opener. I have recommended it to all my friends on a SAD diet.

  2. What about sweet corn? From what I’ve read, sweet corn is different than grain corn. Is it still not safe to eat, even if you grow it yourself and slather it with grass-fed butter?

  3. Pingback: GMO Corn – Beware! | Lessons In The Gulf

  4. angelasamber – there seems to be a lot of debate about which strains of corn are safe to eat – that is, which are not contaminated, and which are still free of GMOs. If you are asking about this, I honestly don’t know the answer to that question.

    In the article, I posed that our ancestors prepared corn by soaking & sprouting, and then processed with lime in something called nixtamalization. Read more about that here:


    Mark’s Daily Apple also has some good information in his Definitive Guide to Traditional Food Preparation:


    Native Americans prepared corn by soaking and drying, and pounding into hominy cakes, or used the meal to make cakes, cornbread, and other foods.

    From what I understand, eating corn on the cob as we prepare it in current society is not traditional – even with butter. I’m not saying eating butter isn’t traditional – because it is, but eating it on corn and then consuming it after steaming or boiling, or even roasting, and eating corn that has not been prepared as our ancestors did is not actually a traditional way to consume


    • Um? Sweet corn, which is tender enough to be eaten steamed or boiled, has been eaten by the North American tribes and in Central America at least since the 16th century- and it was the North American tribes that introduced sweet corn to white settlers. It just wasn’t a central part of their diet.

      Flint corn & flour corn are a different kind of corn and are too starchy and the outer skin is too hard to be eaten boiled. The nixtamalized and ground dough from these kinds of corn is the center of the pre-Columbian American diet. Nixtamalization, soaking dried corn in a strong alkaline solution, makes the niacin in corn available to the human body.

  5. Nice job!

    However, one quibble: “It is inconceivable that in a world where corn is so plentiful and readily available that it is not used more pervasively as an alternative fuel to oil. Unfortunately, there are politicians, special interest groups, and lobbyists working night and day to prevent this from occurring.”

    It seems to me that the environmental problems with corn would only increase with more of it being grown for fuel. Monoculture is monoculture. There is potential in the field of biofuels, but my understanding is the conversion isn’t very efficient yet, meaning growing corn for ethanol production is not cost-effective, especially when taking environmental damage into account — which generally isn’t, at least by the energy market. There are other alternatives to fossil fuels. Hemp, for instance, might be a better crop for conversion to fuel. It has many other great uses, of course, but it also grows faster and taller than corn, and in more different climates (depending on the strain) and without so many expensive and problematic inputs. I believe Paul Stamets has done (or at least talked about) research into using certain mycelium (mushroom) species to convert biomass from various sources into fuel. I think there are some promising avenues out there to pursue.

    Anyway, keep up the good work!

  6. Agreed. My family does eat corn- I work at a farmers market and can get non-GMO open-pollinated heritage sweet corn and flint corn. We eat hominy, grits, and occasionally corn tortillas. Hominy, grits, and tortillas (traditional Mexican tortillas, made from masa) are all made from nixtamalized corn. AFAIK, the varieties of corn used for making masa are not genetically modified. There are thousands of varieties of corn- remember, it was the center of the diets of millions of people for several thousand years- and there are landrace varietes still being grown. Seek them out and enjoy them in their traditional preparations!

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