A CORNY SITUATION

Anyone who read last week?s column will appreciate that I have corn on the brain. While my popcorn succumbed to frost, I did manage to harvest seven partially filled ears of regular corn, which was pretty exciting. Perhaps a little too exciting.

People get kind of weird over their home grown corn. Not me. Other people. Many corn connoisseurs insist you wait until the water is actually boiling in the pot before running out to the garden to collect the corn.

So there you are screaming your way out the door, past your surprised pets enroute to the garden, waving your arms about your head in an effort to get to the garden quicker. You rip the husks off the corn before you even snap them from the stalk and then tear back to the house with a burst of speed that would make Ben Johnson proud. Not me. Other people. If the unattended boiling pot of water hasn?t resulted in a house fire – and when it comes to fresh corn a few hundred thousand dollars worth of house is a risk you are willing to take – then you plunge the cobs in the boiling water as fast as you can.

By the time you catch your breath, the corn should be cooked. At this point it is vital that you eat it immediately. Sure you?re screaming in pain, lips singed, tongue burning, butter welding itself onto your face, but none of it matters because, man that corn is fresh!

I don?t think I have the temperament for fresh corn. I?m more of a grocery store corn person. Or maybe a Taber truck one. I feel a little like the kid who pointed out that the Emperor had no clothes, but bought corn tastes pretty good to me. There, I said it. And I?m not finished. It strikes me that if corn that?s a week old still tastes good, then waiting an hour to cook the corn from your garden can?t make that much of a difference.

When it comes down to it, we all eat too much corn. It?s in everything. The result of a former food crisis in the states and a vow by the Nixon government to make sure food would always be both plentiful and cheap, if not nutritious. The solution was corn. Dextrose, glucose, fructose, invert sugar, sorbitol, xanthagum, vegetable oil, vegetable broth, vegetable shortening – all made predominately with corn and used with a heavy hand as filler. It bulks up everything we eat to make it go further and cost less. Fifty-seven percent of a chicken McNugget is made from altered corn ingredients. When you consider that the chicken itself was fed on corn, it?s even higher than that.

Between 1995 – 2005 the US government paid farmers a total subsidy of $51,261,278,801 just to grow corn! Between 1989 and 1999 consumption of high-fructose corn syrup increased from 47.2 pounds per person to 60.3 pounds. It?s in everything from ketchup and cereals to crackers and salad dressing. And it?s not a good thing. Nothing refined or modified is. But hey, it?s cheap.

Speaking of adding bulk, I read an article that suggested high-fructose corn syrup messes up our appetite sensors and makes us think we?re hungry when we?re not. So is it the super size meals that make us super sized, or what?s in the meals that make us want us to super size them?

Now that the US is looking at corn as the next biofuel, the cheap filler may not be so cheap. Or so readily available. Who knows? Things might get so bad that we?ll be forced to do away with chemical soaked lawns, exhaust spewing lawnmowers and plant our yards to vegetables instead. Horrors! The kids will have to weed and end up with less time for video games and television. Then all those fresh vegetables and all that exercise in the garden will no doubt make us so healthy we no longer need so much medicine. We?ll have come full circle, but maybe this time it will be a different kind of Victory garden.