Saturday, July 20, 2013

Guest Post: Corn Free July Simplified

The following guest post is courtesy of my mother: teacher, author, and gardener Judith Manzoni Ward. Find her on Facebook or read her previous guest posts about losing weight on the corn-free diet and joining a CSA.

     I used to think that reading food labels in the grocery store was strictly for pretentious weirdoes. Then, along came Corn Free July, which, by necessity, plunked me right into the midst of the most avid label readers.  Surprisingly enough, it’s not a bad place to be.  A lot can be learned from the brief text printed on the side of a can or package.  I never knew that graham crackers can contain, along with “whole grains,” a couple of corn derivatives mixed in with all the other additives.  Even canned tomatoes, (except for Pomi in a box,) are enhanced with citric acid, which is commonly produced in industry with (you guessed it!) corn sugars. These sneaky semi-chemicals in my favorite foods made Corn Free July too much of a challenge last year, and I gave up after two weeks.
     This year, I’ve stopped the lazy nonsense and started paying attention to a term that I used to consider too trendy for my blood: Whole Foods.  It turns out that the whole foods catch phrase is catchy because it simply means what it says: food that is whole, sort of like an element as opposed to a compound.  I figured that if I stuck to elements for a month, maybe Corn Free July wouldn’t be so intimidating.
     It helps that July is a fine month for growing edibles.  Squash and green beans are at their peak in the backyard garden I share with numerous wild animals, and cabbage, beets, early kale, boc choi, spinach, onions, berries, and even kohlrabi are showing up in more than adequate quantities in my CSA bin every week.  These are all “whole” and corn free, at least until on-the-cob ripens.  Each of these can be cooked on its own with Irish butter from grass-fed cows, or can be combined into homemade corn free compounds and served with grass-fed beef, or free range chicken, or wild caught seafood.  Lots of times, meat can be skipped altogether, letting the rich flavors of vegetables stand up for themselves. Just the other evening, I was bowled over by the taste and texture of a simple boiled potato, mashed with only black pepper, and served without butter.  This revelation came to pass as I searched for a substitute for the richness of a dessert; it worked well (for now.)  Also, when I get sick of the beauty of boiled potatoes, there is always the newest addition to the Corn Free Cookbook: chocolate cupcakes!!  This is getting easier and easier.
     Breakfast foods can be a little problem if you’re used to eggs and bacon and toast.  I’d skip the bacon, but organic free-range chicken eggs can be found if you look around, and Ezekial bread makes a delicious and nourishing piece of toast.  For snacks, I like organic whole grain rice cakes or any kind of fruit and nuts that can be mixed with a little honey or maple syrup if you just have to have a sweet. 
     That’s about it; three weeks and counting into July.  I’ve experienced little or no suffering so far, and it seems possible, maybe even probable, that the rest of the year might turn my diet into “corn-limited,” if not altogether corn free.  After all, life without an occasional graham cracker or store-bought ice cream cone wouldn’t be so very cheery; or would it?

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