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Corn, corn, everywhere

(article, Culinate staff)

Thanks to folks like the journalist Michael Pollan (in his book The Omnivore's Dilemma) and filmmakers Curt Ellis and Ian Cheney (with their documentary '"King), we've all been educated in the many, many ways corn rules our diets, grocery stores, and governments. But there's still corn work being done out there. 

In March, Jonathan Foley, the director of the Institute on the Environment, posted an essay on Ensia (and also Scientific American) about the pervasiveness of corn in America:

bq. It is important to distinguish corn the crop from corn the system. As a crop, corn is highly productive, flexible, and successful. It has been a pillar of American agriculture for decades, and there is no doubt that it will be a crucial part of American agriculture in the future. However, many are beginning to question corn as a system: how it dominates American agriculture compared with other farming systems; how in America it is used primarily for ethanol, animal feed, and high-fructose corn syrup; how it consumes natural resources; and how it receives preferential treatment from our government.

And in April, food activist Anna Lappé posted a critique on Civil Eats of what she calls '"philanthro-marketing,"' aka Big Food co-opting Little Food: soda companies such as Pepsi or fast-fooderies such as McDonald's promoting their support for real food and healthy diets.

For example, a Coca-Cola program called My Coke Rewards encourages parents to purchase Coke products and earn points to redeem for school-related prizes. Lappé noted not just the ick factor of a soda company marketing directly to children but the terrible economics involved:

bq. We did the math: To earn just one physical activity pack for your school, you’d need to buy 55,440 cans of Coke, which would cost $11,550. Seems like there’s a more effective way to get your school 350 bucks' worth of jump ropes, balls, cones, and basic gym supplies.

Don't forget — one reason soda pop is so cheap to produce is its reliance on high-fructose corn syrup. So there's another place corn is hiding in plain sight: at the school gym.