Consider This... Corn

One of the hottest topics out there is GMO’s-Genetically Modified Organisms. Are they healthy, are they needed, and are they safe? It is a massive and controversial subject that can be pretty difficult to sort out. Today I am only going to talk about corn since most of it is Genetically Engineered, and is done so ONLY to withstand the billions (yes billions) of pounds of pesticides we drown this and other crops in. So rather than ask if you think GE corn is a good or necessary idea, why not Consider This… 

How many pesticides and herbicides do you like in the food you eat and the food you feed to your family or your pets? I am going to assume that most of us would say none. The logical answer might be to stop eating corn altogether and therefore eliminating all those nasty chemicals. Unfortunately that is not the case, not even close.

If we are what we eat, then most of us should be walking cobs of corn. You would think that the assortment of food available to us (over 50,000 various products) would serve us with a genuine variety, but that is not the case.

Corn is the main diet of the cows, pigs, chickens, turkeys, lambs and even salmon, tilapia, and catfish. Our eggs, milk and cheese all come from animals that are fed mostly corn if not exclusively. An easy answer here… become vegetarian or vegan, don’t eat corn and presto- no more corn chemical soup, right? It will help for sure but this is not entirely the case. 

Corn is in your canned fruit, prepared soups, beans and your morning waffles and cereal. It is in your salad dressings, hot sauces, syrups, ketchup, mayonnaise, mustard, relish, margarine, peanut butter, jams and gravies. Your cakes, cookies, candies, chewing gum, potato chips and doughnuts all contain some form of the yellow stuff. Even the shine on your cucumbers and apples comes from a wax made from corn. Thirsty? Your beer, sodas and even your glass of wine - corn and more corn. Of the average 50,000 food items in your supermarket more than 40% contain some form of this genetically engineered vegetable.

Grow your own food, don’t eat meat and skip the yellow cobs? You will still find yourself surrounded in corn. It is in your vitamins, toothpaste, diapers, cleaners, trash bags, batteries and matches. Magazines covers and produce shipping containers are coated with products containing corn. Even the supermarket itself has been built with products made from corn and don’t forget about your cars, it is in your gas tank as well.

Not such an easy fix: It is a difficult ingredient to avoid, but the best you can do is to read the ingredients of the products you buy, choose organic when you can, cook your own food and eat mostly greens. Avoiding meat does cut out a lot of corn, not to mention all of the other health benefits. If you have the option, grow as much of your own food as you can. You would be surprised at how little space it takes to grow food.


Consider This: Chocolate

Today I am going to talk about one of our favorite treats - Theobroma Cacao which actually translates to Food of the Gods - also known as chocolate.

Whether it’s a Valentine’s gift, a pacifying bribe for a child or a special treat just because we are having a bad day, for many of us, eating chocolate feels like food for our soul. Some even claim the rich brown delicacy to be better than sex. But seriously though lol, one thing for sure is that even though we consume 8 million tons of chocolate yearly, we know very little about this treasured treat.

Our love affair with chocolate began thousands of years ago in the form of a bitter drink called xocoatl in present-day Mexico. They believed it to be an aphrodisiac containing mystical properties and was reserved for the elite. For a time, it was even used as a currency and counterfeiting the pods with clay look-a-likes was a booming business. Chocolate, they way we know it didn't come until much later when sugar and flavorings were added in the 1500’s, next the Dutch invented a cocoa press and finally in 1847, Joseph Fry was the first to give us the familiar chocolate bar. Companies like Lindt, Cadbury and Hersheys brought the sweet treats to the masses and continue to do so today.

And now for the bad news-sorry to do this - but the next time you grab a Kit Kat, a box of Coco Puffs or a bottle of your favorite chocolate Vodka, I would like you to Consider This…

In many of Africa’s poorest regions tens of thousands of children as young as five are kidnapped or sold by their parents for as little as $30 to traffickers, who then sell them to one of the many cacao plantations, located in Western African countries like Nigeria and the Ivory Coast. Most are never paid and many never see their families again. While enslaved, the children are beaten, injured, over-worked, exposed to pesticides and deprived of an education. The top players in the game; Mars, Nestle and Hershey all deny supporting these practices, but because about 70% of all chocolate comes from these African countries, it is difficult to believe they don't know that the chocolate they sell has been touched by the hands of a child slave. A recently freed African slave, Drissa, had a message for people who eat chocolate from his country, “When people eat chocolate, they are eating my flesh”.

If that isn’t enough to stop you from grabbing that bag of chocolate chip cookies, you might want to Consider This…

Most of the chocolate we eat contains very little cacao and more ingredients like high fructose corn syrup, partially hydrogenated oils, GMO’s in the form of soy lecithin and all of the corn products, artificial colors, PGPR’s and TBHQ’s – you seriously don’t want to know, and palm oils (an ingredient that should enrage us all!) Palm oil production causes the destruction of rain forests resulting in a serious threat to the environment and to the elephants, tigers, rhinos and orangutans that live there.

Now for some good news. We all have choices! We can give up chocolate altogether – just kidding!! Seriously though, there is a ton of chocolate out there that is ethically sourced. There are vegan and organic products everywhere you turn. I get mine from the bulk food stores and from my local grocery store. A quick Google search can find you lists of companies and products that have great ingredients and do not support child trafficking.  Sjaak's is one we really like. Also remember to use social media and let companies like Nestle, Mars, Kraft and the others know that we do not want chocolate sourced from countries that use child labor. I personally have chosen not to purchase any products from these companies. There are even apps out there that will help you to avoid buying from companies you wish to boycott. This one works well.

Understanding where and how products get to our shopping carts is key to cleaning up our food supply! Most importantly, we really need to understand that we have all of the power. When we speak with our dollars, they will either listen to us or they will disappear! Knowledge is our power and ignorance is theirs.