Corn: not a vegetable, not healthy

Although most folks think of corn as a vegetable, it’s actually a high starch grain. And you may be surprised to know that it has very little health benefit compared to other produce, which is why we don’t really eat much of it anymore in our house.

King Corn is a independent documentary film about the corn industry in America with some really good information.

Here’s are some notes from the film mixed in with my research and comments:

For the first time in American history, our generation is at risk of having a shorter lifespan than our parents because of what we eat.

The filmmakers had their hair analyzed and found that the majority of the carbon in their hair and body came from one source:


Corn is in everything we eat.  And I’m not even talking about the obvious stuff like corn bread, corn flakes, corn muffins, and corn chips.

Food additives made from corn are used in almost all processed food.  Some you’d recognize are: corn meal, corn starch, corn flour, corn protein, corn oil, and high fructose corn syrup.
High Fructose Corn Syrup has replaced sugar as the number one sweetener because it’s cheaper and sweeter.  It’s in
soft drinks, fruit juice, and almost everything sweet like cookies and candy; and it’s horrible for your health.

High Fructose Corn Syrup raises blood sugar rapidly and is also converted to fat in your body faster than any form of sugar.
Which is why it’s no surprise that it’s been linked to obesity, diabetes, and heart disease, and cancer.  High fructose corn syrup is worse in liquid form.
One of the single greatest health changes you can make is to stop drinking sugary drinks like sodas and juice.
True story: My accountant lost a bunch of weight a few years back and I asked him what he did. He shrugged his shoulders and said, “I stopped drinking Cokes.”  Literally, that’s all he did.  Coke was the only soft drink he ever drank and he drank it everyday.  If I remember right he lost over 30 lbs in just a few months.

Why is corn in everything?

Because it’s cheap.  The cheaper and junkier the food, the more corn you’ll find in it, because corn is a key ingredient in cheap food.

Most of the corn grown today is not edible in the general sense.  It is a high starch variety that tastes horrible.  You can’t eat it.  It is specifically grown to be processed.

32% of corn produced is converted to ethanol

18% is for food additives

50% of the corn grown is fed to animals raised to be slaughtered for meat

Food Additives:

Here are some more food additives that often come from corn:

Baking powder, Calcium lactate, Calcium stearate, Caramel, Confectioners Sugar, Dextrin, Dextrose, Glucose, Glycerine, Hydrolyzed vegetable protein, Lactic acid, Lecithin, Linolic Acid, Malt, Maltodextrin, MSG, Polysorbates, Potassium gluconate, Propylene Glycol monostearate, Sodium ascorbate or other ascorbates,
Sodium-, Magnesium-, Calcium- or Potassium-fumarate, alpha-Tocopherol (vitamin E) , Sorbitol, Starch, Sucrose, Vanilla Extract.

Think that’s alot?  Those are just the ones I thought you might recognize. There’s a super long list here.

Corn additives are also in cosmetics, body care, toothpaste, and medications.

Corn Production

Anhydrous Ammonia is the main fertilizer for commercially grown corn.

Most corn is genetically modified to survive being sprayed with pesticides, which kills weeds, insects, and bacteria.  These pesticides are toxic to humans and traces can be found on the produce.

This next part is really crazy to me.

The U.S. government used to pay farmers not to grow corn.
Now the government actually pays them to grow too much corn.
The filmmakers, with the assistance of professional farmers, actually plant and harvest an acre of corn.
They did everything right and had a large harvest. When they go to sell the corn, they discover that the money they receive is less than their cost of production, which means they didn’t make a profit. Theirs was not an isolated incident.  This is normal.
Every season corn farmers lose money on the corn they harvest and sell.
The government has various subsidy payment programs that not only make up the loss, but also pay over and above the cost of production, and that’s where corn farmers make their money.

Commercial Feed

Cows are fed a diet that’s mostly corn because it’s cheap and it fattens them up quick.  Growing a cow used to take 4-5 years; now they do it in 14 months.  Cows do not naturally eat corn, they eat grass.

This corn-based diet is highly acidic and wreaks havoc on their digestive system.  It lowers the cows internal pH causing acidosis, which is fatal to the cattle.  The longer they are on a corn based diet, the sicker they get.  During their life they are constantly loaded up with several types of antibiotics to help prevent bacterial infections caused by acidosis and the unsanitary conditions of feedlots.

A feedlot with 100,000 cattle produces as much waste as a city of 1.7 million people, which is why 70% of antibiotics produced today are fed to livestock.

“Corn-fed Beef” sounds good right? It’s not.

When you eat this meat, you’re really eating corn.

65% of the calories in ground beef from corn-fed cows comes from fat.

Which reminds me of a fast-food chain in California called Fatburger.  Exactly.

But it’s not just burgers.  A T-bone steak from a corn-fed cow has nearly 9 times more saturated fat than a T-bone steak from a grass-fed cow.  This is not healthy meat.  The same applies to commercially raised fish, chicken, and pork.  You feed an animal an unhealthy diet, and they produce unhealthy meat.

Which is why we only eat organic grass-fed beef…a lot more on that in a future blog post.  So subscribe to my blog already!

One last note:  If you have a chronic health condition, it could be related to an undiagnosed corn allergy that’s exacerbated by overexposure to corn.  You may want to google “corn allergy”.

Check out a video clip of King Corn here

And if you haven’t yet, you really need to see Food, Inc.


Post your corny comments below! (that was wrong)

5 Responses to “Corn: not a vegetable, not healthy”
  1. shanna says:

    Great source of info. I heard about this when that movie first came out; I’m really glad they are releasing more films along these lines, hopefully it will start a change. I only purchase corn from my local organic farmer, otherwise, nadda. I also only buy organic dog food and do check the ingrediants to make sure it’s actually “food”.

  2. Ryan says:

    You’re right that corn is a grain, and that it is used in many, many processed foods (I’ve seen Food Inc. as well, great film) but I have to disagree when you say that it has very little health benefit, unless you’re only referring to modern hybrid corn, GMO corn, and processed corn products. Traditional corn (maize) has been around for a very long time and is quite healthy, but unfortunately it’s no longer very widely produced. A bit more on corn (and macrobiotics) here:

    • Hey Ryan thanks for the comment! Yes I am referring to modern sweet corn. You’re right about maize, but in the interest of brevity I deiced to skip it. I’ve read the Macrobiotics book, it makes sense and that diet is good for some metabolic types, but I tend to lean toward more raw foods. :)

  3. Melissa Jaynes says:

    Have you seen Food, Inc.? I have not seen King Corn yet, but it seems to have a lot of the same information as Food, Inc. It is a disturbing documentary for sure! On a side note for animal lovers – watch your dog and cat food. Most of them list corn as the first or second ingredient. Corn is not good for them either. It is a sad time we live in when money is so much more important then peoples health.

    On another side note – I recently found and will be joining next month a Meat CSA (Community Supported Agriculture). This farm is all organic and their animals are grass fed. Great way to get GOOD meat:

    • Hey Melissa! Yes I have Food Inc. and love it. Thanks for mentioning the pet food thing. You’re totally right.
      I should amend my post. We actually make it a point to buy non-corn pet food. And thanks for sharing the local farm link!


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