Thursday, January 29, 2009

Repost of "It's the Corn"

I'm reposting this as it posted out of order due to my starting it as a draft last weekend and posting later. For those of you who have already read this my apologies for my formatting failures

Corn - From Wikipedia... Maize (IPA: /ˈmeɪz/) (Zea mays L. ssp. mays), known as corn in some countries, is a cereal grain domesticated in Mesoamerica and subsequently spread throughout the American continents. After European contact with the Americas in the late 15th and early 16th century, maize spread to the rest of the world.

Concerned about corn you ask? What has me concerned is that things are going really well with this whole $200 a month thing for us. Concerned about it going well you ask, well I'll have to back up a bit...
For those of you that don't know my background, I'm a type II diabetic, diagnosed about 5+ years ago. With meds, and a semblance of watching what I eat about 1/3 of the time (I watch what I while I sleep sometimes so for about 7 hours a day) I've been able to keep the blood sugars at a high but not yet deadly number. I have high cholesterol, hypertension and occasional attacks of gout that can be severe enough to keep me off my feet for days at a time. In other words I'm the picture of health what with being nearly 49 years old, overweight to the point of obesity, but I love food and everything about it and the beverages that wash it all down more than just about anything else in my life. I like to drink myself silly on occasion, I'm a former chef so I know how to make food taste good but I never really worry about the nutrition stuff and other assorted sundry issues but enough about all that crap...
... What's got me so worked up is that I've been on this for nearly a month now, haven't worried about portion control and have pretty much let the weekly grocery circulars dictate my diet since 1/01/09 concerning myself more with keeping within the budget than the health aspect. Although I said it has to be a variety of foods, fresh and somewhat healthy or this wouldn't work out it still had to be somewhere near the budget guidelines. Well, here's some good news. I made my last trip to the grocery for the month of January and have managed with little effort but just a bit of consciousness about what we have and about not purchasing any extraneous stuff while at the grocers, this first month I have beaten my goal by 15.53% for food and have kept my alcohol budget well under the $50 as well w/o a single raid on the wine cellar. That's right, I've spent less than $170 this whole month and done it with minimal effort. Now for the really good news, in the first 25 days I've dropped 3 lbs (remember I'm not dieting or even really watching what I eat so this is pretty good), I have money left at the end of the month and (a drum roll please), my blood sugar has not only stabilized but has dropped by over 50%; that's right from around 250 continually to about normal at 110 to 120. This is for the first time in over 5 years and just in case you hadn't heard me before, with minimal effort. OK, OK I'd like to take some credit for all of this but who I'm really going to give credit for this somewhat miraculous change, is ADM (Archer Daniels Midland), General Mills, Cargill, Con Agra and all the other corporate food giants that are poisoning us with processed food, fractionated beyond any resemblance to what our ancestors ate even 50 years ago into "nutrients" and empty calories. As my old and wise friend Bill the Cat used to say, "ACK!" (my apologies to Berkeley Breathed).
The reason I give the credit to these vast corporations all boils down to a few simple words my friend said when I told her my blood sugar had stabilized in such a short time, "it's the corn". It was like a huge light bulb had just gone on... what I have not been ingesting is corn products; products processed and fractionated from that giant grass we all love when we have it slathered with butter and copiously sprinkled with salt. If all we were eating was corn on the cob it would be a far different story but it's in over 25% of every food in our supermarkets, Nearly every food that's been taken from it's natural state and manipulated in some way has vast amounts of added corn "products". High fructose corn syrup was not even invented (food can be invented?) until less than 30 years ago and now it accounts for 66 lbs of the 158 lbs of added (very important) that every man, woman and child in America consumes each year and this is only a small part of the overall problem...
Yep, I'm concerned.

As I've progressed along our budget guidelines for the month, I've learned a few things and I'll continue on with some of this as we move forward:

  • I don't drive all over town and shop at 12 grocers just to get a bargain, that would eat up a substantial amount of the savings we are enjoying, have an adverse affect on the environment and be just downright silly and annoying. This is not to say I don't occasionally make a special foray somewhere out of the way for something none of the local grocers carry but I pretty much stick with my main 3 grocery stores, 2 of which just happen to be rated by the Seattle Times as the high end of the grocery scale when it comes to prices.
  • I read labels now for things other than just the caloric and nutritional breakdown and concentrate on two things - the number of ingredients and where the food actually comes from. The longer the list of ingredients the less likely the food is to be "whole" or in somewhat close to it's natural state and the location of origin is important to me as I just don't feel right eating blueberries that are transported using vast amounts of fossil fuels from 12000 miles a way just because I can. Plus I want to spend my money in this economy in these hard times. I can plow my savings back into things like local independent bookstores, places that are trying to make a difference through the products they sell and how they sell them and even the businesses that build products that although I don't use them all the time (airplanes come to mind) the building of them is still essential to our local and national economy. With a little luck, the people that I help keep in jobs will turn around and help keep me in one as well
  • I will continue to eat more local products and also concentrate on those ingredients that are fresh in season understanding that if I want things like cinnamon or coffee I'll have to buy those things from a great distance just because I won't get them in my own garden or in the next neighborhood.
  • My 10 year old still needs to like the food and enjoy this project, lifestyle, whatever we want to call it or it will fail.
  • Food treats are good, but they need to stay treats and not become habits. Pretty easy not to buy sugary, fatty crap all the time when the budget is tight but also easy to fit a treat in now and then as long as we make it and know what's in it.
  • I don't want to eat feedlot beef ever again.
  • Processed foods are poison, period. No more food broken into separate "nutrients" which pretty well leaves out anything that is in a cardboard box @ the supermarket.

I'm not here to get all huffy and puffy or tell anyone how or what they should or shouldn't eat. Look, I still don't like fresh tomatoes, especially those big beefsteaks that I grew up around and my family still can eat sitting in the garden (retch!) and that still seems to surprise nearly everyone I meet but they're just not for me alright? What's got me in such a state is The Omnivore's Dilemma, a tremendous book and working really well with my current project (hopefully turning into a lifestyle change that will stick this time) and it's not the book or the author but the book tells us just how bad food corporations have gotten and I just want to stop eating the processed crap as I'm feeling so much better in such a short time and saving money to boot. Whole foods I'm learning are more filling, more satisfying and as I lose some of my built up tolerance to salty and sugary flavors dare I say even more tasty than the sugary, salty, hydrogenated crap that I've been eating for so long. I won't go into the treatment of our livestock meant for our tables or the government subsidy programs meant to keep corn and all of the vast products made from it or any other political, moral or emotional issues around this and I'll get off my podium now but frankly I'm pretty disgusted and I don't want to proliferate these habits or have Henry eat stuff that's been processed beyond recognition as a food. If your grandmother wouldn't recognize it as food, it probably really isn't. I'll let you read it for yourself in the writing of Michael Pollan, Mark Bittman and others and I hope you will.
OK off the soapbox

1 comment:

  1. Perk of google reader. I didn't realize it was out of order in the first place.