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Take the corn-free challenge

(article, Curt Ellis)

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Every day for the last month, at least one person has asked us: "Did making 'King Corn' change the way you eat?"

It’s a simple question, but we’ve never had a good answer for it. A few attempts: 

“No, but we’ve changed the way we wish we ate.”
“We’ve started buying grass-fed beef now, and stopped drinking soda.”
“We’re trying — but will you change the way you eat?”
“We’ve stopped eating altogether, actually.”

The honest truth is that it’s hard to change the way you eat. Visiting a 100,000-cow feedlot and home-brewing corn syrup did make fast food a lot less appetizing. I can’t eat a hamburger now without hearing the nutritionist from the film, Loren Cordain: “Hamburger meat is really not meat. It’s fat disguised as meat.” But still, it’s hard to avoid the stuff. Industrial food tastes good — it’s salty and fatty and sweet — and it’s almost irresistibly convenient and cheap.

[%image curt width=350 float=left caption="Curt weighs in today in San Francisco."]It’s been even harder to eat well in the last month on the road with the film. When my blood sugar starts to crash, I reach for the nearest calories, whatever they are. And I’m clearly not alone: I was looking for breakfast in the L.A. airport last Saturday, and found it in the food court, where a dozen fellow travelers were scarfing down pizza — AT 7:30 IN THE MORNING!

So I’ve decided to see if it’s possible: I’m not going to eat corn for a month.  

Starting today.

That means no corn-fed hamburgers. No corn-sweetened juice. No corn-oiled salad dressings. Not even my beloved mono- and diglycerides! Frankly, I’m not sure if I can do it. Corn is in nearly every food that comes from a restaurant or a package, and I’m going to be in my home kitchen for less than half of November. The waiters are gonna love me.

I will make one exception to the rule, and allow myself to eat corn on the cob, fresh, as nature intended it. It’s not that I think corn is bad, but the ubiquity of processed corn is a measure of how industrialized our food system has become. And trying to live outside the corn kingdom — without going broke — should make the next 30 days pretty interesting. Think of it as "SuperSize Me" . . . in reverse. 

[%image scale float=right width=300 caption="The beginning of a new diet."]But I’m not the only one who gets this question about whether I’ve changed my diet. Ian? Do you read these posts? Time to put up or shut up, buddy — I dare you to make November a corn-free month too. 

p(blue). Editor's note: follow Curt through his posts made during his month without corn in Culinate's Dinner Guest Blog posts by Curt.

Curt Ellis and Ian Cheney appear in the new film "King Corn," directed by Aaron Woolf. The film opens on November 2 in Berkeley and San Francisco, and on November 9 in Portland, Oregon; Austin, Texas; Corvallis, Oregon; Omaha, and Chicago. Visit for details._

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