Thursday, August 30, 2012

Genetically Modified Sweet Corn: "Naturally" Delicious?

Good news, everyone! Wal-Mart is about to start carrying genetically modified sweet corn.

I honestly don't know where to start. Should we go with "But I thought sweet corn was the kind that wasn't genetically modified," or "Wait. Wal-Mart sells food?"

According to a recent article in the Des Moines Register by Iowa farmer Tim Burrack, everyone's favorite retail giant is scheduled to start providing delicious, ready-to-eat ears of genetically engineered sweet corn any day now, so start clipping those coupons.

The worst part of this, though, isn't the fact itself, but the way in which it was presented by the biotech advocate who wrote the article. The piece started off strong, grabbing the readers' heart strings with tales of this year's drought and its effect on the family farmers and their less fortunate neighbors who get charitable donations of corn chowder at church socials. It went on to talk about the wonders of modifying a species' DNA to be not only more drought-resistant, but more pest-resistant as well. Seven summers working on a farm gave me first hand knowledge of how near to impossible it is to grow corn without chemical pesticides, so, in a way, the argument for a genetically bug-resistant corn stalk...I see where this is coming from. The term "natural" maybe wasn't the best way to describe it, but not bad enough to completely dismiss the idea yet.

Even the fact that the whole article reads like it was paid for by Wal-Mart isn't the worst part. The worst part is the paragraph attacking the "enemies of biotech" who "oppose every innovation in agriculture." Here, take a read:

"People who want to keep GM food out of their diets, however, have a simple solution: They can choose to buy organic. Any food that is labeled organic by definition is not a biotech product. These people have a choice in the products they choose to purchase. Why can’t I?"

First things first. I really have to point out that if you write a clause like "people have a choice in the products they choose," you're going to be mocked, even if your actual point makes sense. However, if you use idiotic, redundant sentence structure and your logic is critically flawed, well, I can't be held responsible for what might happen.

Now that we've gotten that out of the way, let's move on to the content. We all know how expensive certified organic products are, and they're not even always available. Is Burrack really saying that GM products should be the norm, and we should have to seek out specialty items to avoid them?

But here's the really scary part of all this. You know how wind, insects, birds, the bottom of your shoe, pretty much anything can cross-pollinate two plants, even if farmers don't necessarily want it to? Yeah, that's happening with GM crops. They're getting their cyborg DNA into conventional crops and there's not a whole lot we can do to stop it. Sure, sure, maybe there's nothing wrong with biotech crops and they should just get cross-pollinated with everything else and we shouldn't make a stink about it, but I'd feel better about that theory if anyone was doing any real research into potential downsides just to make sure.  Also, remember that farmer who got sued by Monsanto for growing their Round-Up Ready Canola when all he'd done wrong was operate a farm downwind of theirs?

One more reason to be wary of corn, I guess.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Prilosec: Breakfast of Champions

Maybe I've been a foodie for too long.

Maybe I've spent too much time talking to people who love farmers' markets as much as I do. And cooking. And vegetables. And buying vegetables at farmers' markets and then cooking them.

Maybe I've completely lost any relevant idea of how the average American actually thinks about their diet and their health.

I had a bit of a shock to the system this morning while catching up on reruns of The Daily Show, because, you know, I get most of my news from Comedy Central, so I really shouldn't be calling the kettle black by complaining about how ignorant some people are, but bear with me anyway. I was just thinking to myself how creepy it is that Big Brother knows which advertisements will be relevant to me, when one came on that totally missed the mark, although it gave me a great idea for a blog post, so, thanks, Big Brother.

Have you guys seen this commercial for heartburn medicine starring redneck stand-up comedian Larry the Cable Guy?

If I'm not mistaken (and please tell me if you think I am) this commercial pretty much says that one of the greatest things about our country is that we have a pill you can take every day- not just when and if symptoms arise but actually every morning just in case they do- so you don't have to listen to your body when it tries to tell you, "Hey, whaddaya say we lay off the corn dogs for a little while?"

I think what really got me was the "this is why I love America" message.  Yeah, of course, he's making fun of himself and the redneck stereotype, that's his schtick, but he's also legitimately trying to sell the product, so we can only assume that there's supposed to be some kind of grain of truth in the character he's playing.

It's no wonder Europeans think we're idiots.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Maybe This Isn't Funny Anymore

Day 7 of throwing caution to the wind and eating whatever I want.

It isn't working out so well.

Toward the end of July, I'll admit it now, I was getting fed up with thinking about it all the time. Paradoxically enough, I was so busy writing about healthy eating that I didn't have time to make delicious food or enjoy it.  Eating, thinking about eating, food shopping, food cooking, food writing, it was all getting to be a bit of a chore.

So when it was all over, I celebrated by bingeing on the sheer defiance of not thinking so much. I said yes a lot. Yes I want a drive-through cheeseburger. Yes I want Chinese food. Yes I want another ice cream cone. Yes I want the less expensive, hormone-packed milk in my coffee.

Yes I want more coffee.

And all week long I've felt like I'm walking through a thick fog. I can't concentrate on anything. I can almost feel the woosh of wind as thoughts fly out of my head, right through the fingers of a consciousness trying to grab them.

I'm sleeping too much, but I never feel well rested. My joints and back hurt. My head hurts. My stomach hurts. I'm cranky. I'm apathetic.

Of course, the problem is that my symptoms are similar to those of, oh, pretty much everything. Maybe it's this weird weather we're having and the air pressure changes that come with it. Maybe it's my pollen allergies. Maybe I've developed an intolerance to corn. Maybe it's a tumor. Maybe I just need a vacation. Maybe I can't focus because I'm not sleeping well, and maybe I'm not sleeping well because I'm drinking too much coffee. Maybe I'm just looking for a problem with my health so I can go around saying condescending, judgmental things like, "Oh I haven't drunk COFFEE in YEARS. It's so BAD for you."

I really hope it's not that last one.

Last night, after a homemade dinner of whole wheat pasta and organic, preservative-free, sweetener-free, extra vegan tomato sauce, and basil straight from my garden porch, I felt more like myself than I have in days. I enjoyed that feeling for about 20 minutes before I went and ruined it with dessert.

Have any of you had a similar experience after a detox? Is this just a shock to the system that goes away after your body readjusts? Did I always feel this awful and just not notice? Is it something unrelated? Is it all in my head? Leave your thoughts in the comments section.