Saturday, October 26, 2013

October Grain of the Month: Maize, aka Corn

I know October is almost over, but I would be remiss to not post about 
The ugly, the bad, and the good.
Aaaah Clint. So freakin' good-looking!
First, the ugly:
It's sad that every time I find out a product contains corn, I'm immediately turned off. According to Mother Jones, 90% of USA corn is genetically modified.
What's that mean?
It means the crops are Round Up Ready: Engineered to be pesticide resistant. Corn is also engineered to produce its own toxin, Bt Toxin. Bt Toxin comes from bacteria. It attacks the intestines of insects by paralyzing their digestive tract. This is why it's used as an insecticide. I feel scientists have gone too far genetically modifying sweet corn crops to self produce this toxic material.
SH*T (No pun intended), 
I got Crohn's.
There ain't no way I'm eating GMO Corn!
She's not that convincing,
She needs to be doubled over more, don't you think?
Next, the bad:
Just for laughs (OK, I'm a nerd), I googled how many products have GMO corn in them. It's bad! High fructose corn syrup lends itself to Soda, Gatorade, BBQ sauce, Cookies, Cakes, Candy, Chocolate....BABY FOOD! GMO corn oil can be found in margarine, mayonnaise, and salad dressings. And, let's not forget about all the breakfast cereals!
Corn is in over 3,000 grocery products!
GMO Corn = Ubiquitous!
If you want to find out if your food contains GMO Sweet Corn, the kind you find in the grocery aisle, the farmer's markets, and processed foods, the Non-GMO Project has built a data-base and you can use their search bar.
So many people I talk to, 
and a lot of you bloggers are trying the new Grain Brain diet. 
I am curious to know:
Are the grains really contributing to 
dementia, chronic head aches, anxiety, or depression, 
Is it due to the Round-up Ready and Bt Toxins in our grains? 
But at last, the good:
There are different types of corn. Most of the US genetically modified corn is Sweet Corn. Dent Corn (field corn) is used in animal feed, and in industrial products (often a NON-GMO type). The 3rd type of corn is decorative Indian corn - used for, duh, decorative purposes!
Nothing says "Fall" better than Indian Corn
The American Indian word "mahiz" means "that which sustains us". And it does: corn contributes about 21% of human nutrition world-wide. Most of the corn grown in the US and Canada is fed to animals. Corn is also found in industrial products, like cosmetics, fabrics, medicines laundry starch, glue, and ink.
Corn has its rightful place in our diet.
It's really high in vitamin A (10 times more than other grains). Vitamin A is an anti-oxidant, which may help protect us against cancer and could prevent age-related macular degeneration. Corn is often eaten with beans, which is great because their complimentary amino acids (parts of proteins) make up complete proteins. This is super important if you're vegan because so many plant proteins are not complete proteins. 
Corn is a great source of fiber. 
From a runner's perspective, fiber may not be what you want to eat a lot of the day before a race, or right before you're going go for a long run, but there are some energy benefits to the fiber in corn that shouldn't be overlooked. In our colon, the soluble fiber from corn is metabolized by our gut flora (bacteria) into short chain fatty acids (SCFA). SCFA provide energy to the cells that line our colon, lowering our risk of colon cancer.
For you Gluten Free Foodies out there, 
Bob's Red Mill makes a gluten free corn flour, 
cornbread mix and corn meal.
Click Here to try a Gluten Free Cornmeal Pancake Recipe
My favorite way to eat corn is to pop it.
For years I was grossed out by microwaveable popping corn, and disheartened by GMO corn. I wouldn't allow any of it in the house. But then a fellow runner told me that she microwaves organic popping corn. You can get organic popping corn from Trader Joe's, Eden Foods, or Arrowhead Mills. Just get a flat-bottomed, brown paper bag (like the kind you use for school lunches), add 1/2 cup organic popcorn kernels, fold the bag over 2X, pop in microwave for 3 minutes on high. Stop when popping slows - like when you hear the last 1 or 2 last kernels pop. 
Top it however you wish:
Use a tiny bit of salt or Mrs Dash; chili, onion or garlic powder; sesame, ground flax or hemp seeds. Of course you can make it on the stove too. If you make it on the stove, you can experiment using different flavored olive oils.

Have you experimented with organic popping corn? 
Have better experience with one brand over the other?
Do you have a favorite recipe?
I'd love to learn about them - it's so corn popping season.

Train Smart Today!
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