Tag Archives: corn

Black bean, corn, and collard green enchiladas

Black bean, corn, and collard green enchiladas

Ingredients
Corn tortillas
Olive oil
1 can black beans
1 can corn
A few leaves of collard greens, chopped (other greens would work too – kale or spinach, etc)
Roasted red peppers, chopped (optional)
1-2 tbs cream cheese (optional)
Shredded cheese or vegan cheese
Red enchilada sauce (from a can/jar is fine, or make your own with the ingredients below)

Sauce Ingredients
1 small onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
1 cup of salsa (I like to use Pace Picante Sauce)
3 tbs tomato paste
1 cup canned crushed tomatoes (fire roasted work great for this)
1 cup water

Cilantro-lime quinoa ingredients
Quinoa
Cilantro
1 lime
Pepitas (optional)

Directions

1. Preheat oven to broil. If preparing quinoa: boil the quinoa according to directions.

2. In a pan, saute the can of beans, can of corn, roasted red peppers, and chopped collard greens with some olive oil, until the greens turn bright green and everything is warmed through. Optional: Add 1-2 tbs cream cheese and stir into veggies until melted. Remove pan from heat and set aside.

3. If making your own sauce: In a pot, saute the chopped onion and garlic then turn off the heat. Add all other sauce ingredients to the pot and mix well. If the sauce tastes too vinegary, add a tsp of sugar.

4. Heat a small amount of oil in a frying pan. You are going to flash-fry each corn tortilla individually to prevent it from cracking when you roll it. To flash-fry your tortilla, place it in the pan of hot oil for about 3 seconds, then flip it over for another 3 seconds, then remove it.

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5. Put a thin layer of enchilada sauce on the bottom of your baking pan to prevent them from sticking. In your flash-fried corn tortilla, add a few spoonfuls of veggie mixture. Roll the tortilla around the fillings and place it in the baking pan (seam side down, if you need to, so it stays rolled). Continue rolling all of the enchiladas until the pan is full or you run out of ingredients.

Veggie enchiladas

6. Pour enchilada sauce over rolled enchiladas, then top it all with shredded cheese.

6. Bake for 5-10 mins, or until cheese is melted and begins to bubble and brown. (Remember, broil is really hot! Watch them carefully so they don’t burn!)

7. If preparing quinoa: Mix cooked, drained quinoa with chopped cilantro leaves and juice of 1/2 – 1 lime. (I also sprinkled some pepitas on mine. )

Meatless Monday #87: Burrito Bowl

Ingredients

All of some of the following:
Rice (brown rice is best, instant rice is fastest)
Black or Pinto beans
Canned corn
Chopped bell pepper
Chopped avocado
Chopped green onion
Chopped cilantro
Chopped tomato
Chopped jalapeno
Salsa

Directions:

1. Cook the rice according to the package. Heat the beans either on the stovetop or in the microwave.

2. Mix the rice and beans with all of the chopped veggies and the salsa.

You Are What THEY Eat

We all know the old saying, “You are what you eat.” And it’s true. What we eat literally becomes a part of us. What we eat doesn’t just go in our gut, but it ends up in our blood, our veins, our muscle tissue, our fat deposits, our brain, our hair and fingernails, our organs, our skin, and our bones. [For example, The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has detected pesticides in blood and urine samples from 95.6% of Americans tested. This is why it’s so important to be conscious of what we eat!]

It’s easy to see that what we eat effects our bodies, and much of it ends up staying in our system for quite some time (like pesticides, drugs, even corn). And it shouldn’t take a genius to figure out that the same is true for animals – what they eat becomes a part of their body and much of it stays in their system for quite some time (like pesticides, drugs, even corn). So when you eat meat, you’re also eating what that animal ingested. You are what THEY eat.

The recall of over 500 million eggs due to potential salmonella contamination brought to light the crowded, filthy, and utterly unappetizing living conditions of most egg laying hens in the US. What was not as widely reported was the likely cause of the outbreak: contaminated chicken feed.

Meat, fish, egg, and dairy companies do not have to tell us anything about the feeds they use. Feed ingredients are closely guarded “proprietary trade secrets.” Even the farmers often do not know what is in the feed – they simply serve up whatever is provided to them by the meat company with which they are contracted.

[This is another subject entirely, but I’m not sure that I’ve ever really explained how the farmer-to-meat corporation relationship works. Basically, big companies like Tyson will contract farmers to raise chickens exclusively for them. Tyson will provide things like feed and will actually even provide the baby chicks! But the general consensus is that the farmers are getting royally screwed in these contracts.]

A closer look at what’s actually being fed to animals reveals a lot of bizarre stuff that most of us would not want in our food chain. (This is most likely the real reason feed ingredients are such carefully protected secrets.)

What They Eat

1. Corn and Soy
Because of a series of political events (including government farm subsidies and the Farm Bill), corn and soy have become incredibly cheap and therefore are the base of livestock feed. Livestock consumes 60% of the corn and 47% of the soy produced in the US.

The problem with feeding corn and soy to livestock is that their digestive systems are not designed to handle corn and soy. This feed especially causes problems in ruminants (like cows, sheep, and goats) but it also impacts pigs, chickens, and even fish! (Yes, they are now feeding corn to fish. Please agree with me that this is incredibly UNNATURAL.)

These animals can not properly digest corn and soy, so the chewed up food sits in their stomachs for too long without passing through quickly, as grass would. This results in fermentation acids accumulating in the stomach, which causes painful ulcers, and can lead to infections and abscesses in the liver, not to mention excessive indigestion and drooling/frothing.

Plus, the accumulation of undigested corn and soy in the intestines causes the growth of E. coli in the digestive tract (you know, that stuff that can kill you if you don’t cook your hamburger well enough? Oh, and PS – the E. coli gets from the cow’s intestine to your hamburger because there is shit in the meat.)

But these issues are outweighed because not only is corn & soy cheap, it is also fattening due to the way it is (improperly) digested. Prior to industrialized farming, steers were 4-5 years old at slaughter. Today, they are 14-16 months. You can’t take a beef calf from a birth weight of 80 pounds to slaughter weight of 1,200 pounds in a little more than a year on grass. It takes enormous quantities of corn, protein (see #3), and growth hormones (see #2).

You are what they eat: A corn based diet is not just unhealthy for the animals, but it is also unhealthy for the humans eating them. Besides the significant increase in E. coli, corn fed animals develop a “marbled” flesh: saturated fat woven into their muscles. And because the USDA is out to protect the farmers (not the consumers), their beef grading system is set up to reward this intra-muscular fat marbling with a “Grade A” stamp.

And just as pesticide residue is detected in over 95% of tested humans, animals subsisting on corn and soy ingest massive amounts of pesticides. When you eat meat, you also eat the pesticides that have accumulated in their bodies.

2. Drugs
Antibiotics and hormones are used to combat the negative health issues caused by a corn and soy based diet (the indigestion, ulcers, and E. coli in the intestine) and to repel the effects of very cramped, unsanitary conditions, where diseases thrive and spread quickly. And, of course, antibiotics and hormones speed up growth.

You are what they eat: Antibiotic and hormone residues are found in the meat, eggs, and dairy humans consume. And not only that, but traces of these drugs can also be found in vegetables that are fertilized with manure from drugged animals. And on top of that, human water sources have been contaminated with these drugs due to feedlot water runoff. And by the way, consuming these hormones is linked to cancer (especially breast, prostate, and colon).

Another very serious issue is that these antibiotics are always added to the feed and water (no matter what). This practice of “nontherapeutic use of antibiotics” causes the development of antibiotic-resistant bacteria, which can effect humans (ahem, Swine Flu). Antibiotic resistance is a very serious public health problem that already costs the US economy billions of dollars each year, but even scarier than that, it could suddenly wipe out lots and lots of people. The World Health Organization calls antibiotic resistance one of the three greatest threats to human health.

3. Meat from the same and other species, diseased animals, euthanized cats and dogs, feathers, hair, skin, hooves, blood, brains, and organs
Another way to fatten the animals as quickly as possible is to add “animal protein products” to the feed. This is another ingenious way for factory farms to cut their costs: feed the carcasses of slaughtered animals back to the live animals, including brains, organs, skin, feathers, hair, and blood. In addition to inducing cannibalism, animal feed can also legally contain dead horses, road kill, and euthanized cats and dogs. I am not making this up people!

You are what they eat: The spread of Mad Cow Disease was a direct result of feeding cattle parts to cattle. The US government has since put restrictions on the parts of cattle that can be fed back to cattle. Cows can no longer be fed cow brains, spinal cords and other central nervous system tissues, but they can still be fed cow blood and other cow parts. And cows can be fed rendered pigs, chickens, and turkeys that have been fed cow brains, spinal cords, and nervous systems. There are no restrictions on feeding rendered pigs to pigs or rendered chickens to chickens.

4. Manure and Other Animal Waste
It is common practice to add cattle manure, swine waste, and poultry litter to the feed as additional “animal protein products.” And the manure/waste/litter served up as food is allowed to contain contain dirt, rocks, sand, wood, and other such contaminants.

You are what they eat: Not only does this waste contain antibiotics and hormones that were fed to the animals, but it can also come from animals that ate rendered cow parts, and then be fed to cows, possibly enabling the spread of Mad Cow Disease. Plus, it’s just plain gross.

5. Plastic
Many animals need roughage to move food through their digestive systems, but since they are not receiving the necessary fiber from their corn-soy-“protein” based diet, plastic pellets are used to simulate plant-based roughage.

You are what they eat: Ya, so I’m not really sure that the plastic they eat directly effects you, but it’s pretty screwed up that we’ve messed with their diet so much that we have to add plastic for them just to be able to digest their food.

What you can do

If you’re eating meat, eggs, or dairy look for these labels:

Organic – No antibiotics nor hormones were used. An absolute ban on using rendered animal carcasses in the feed. No pesticides were used on the food they were fed. However, many organic-raised animals are still fed corn & soy.

Grass Fed – Not fed corn & soy. However, these animals can still be given hormones, antibiotics, and pesticides.

Vegetarian Fed – Not fed rendered animal parts. However, these animals still eat corn & soy, antibiotics & hormones,  and pesticides.

*Grass fed used in conjunction with Organic makes for the best option.*

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Breakfast: A bean and Veggie Shreds cheese taco

Lunch: We had a potluck at work today! I work with a bunch of dudes, so our potluck consisted of: a bucket of KFC, brisket and sausage from Bill Miller’s, frozen eggrolls, and sausage calzones.  Luckily, there were actually a few veg items there too: I made these mini-burritos, there was also a potato-cheese casserole, a salad, and a 7 layer dip (no ground beef, thank goodness!), oh and a pumpkin pie.

Dinner: Artichoke, olive, and tomato pizza. I made mine cheeseless.
pizza

A Brief History Lesson

At the end of WWII, our munitions plants were morphed into plowshare factories and began turning our ammonium nitrate surplus into chemical fertilizers (if you follow that link, start reading about half-way down, at the paragraph that starts with “Unfortunately…”). But fertilizers and machinery are not the only things linked to war. Most chemical warfare is actually pesticide in a much stronger dose (if you follow that link, read the “WWII” section). Some chemical warfare agents were discovered when trying to create pesticides and some pesticides were discovered when trying to create chemical weapons. (We are eating this stuff!)

Between ammonium nitrate fertilizer and nerve gas pesticide, the corn and soybean yields skyrocketed shortly after WWII. Some politicians saw this as a valid reason to dismantle the New Deal policies that had helped farmers weather the economic uncertainties inherent in their business. Over the next few decades, nudged by industry, the government re-wrote farm policy on commodity subsidies (corn & soy) so that these funds no longer protect the farmer, but instead guarantee a cheap supply of corn and soybeans.

These 2 crops, formerly food for poor people and animals, became something entirely different: a standardized raw material for industry, not very different from logging or mining. Mills and factories, as complex as those turning iron and aluminum ores into cars, soda cans, and antiperspirants, were developed. But, these were turning piles of corn and soy into high-fructose corn syrup, hydrogenated oils, and thousands of other starch and oil based chemicals.

Cow, pigs, and chickens were brought in off the pasture into Confined Animal Feeding Operations (CAFOs) where corn and soy (which is not part of these animals’ natural diet) are used to cheaply and quickly fatten them. Corn and soy now run all the way down our industrial pipeline into soft drinks, burgers, and all the other processed foods on which our nation runs (or sits on its butt, as the case may be).

This is how 70% of all our Midwestern agricultural land shifted into single-crop corn or soybean farms, each one of them, on average, the size of Manhattan.

Thanks to synthetic fertilizers and pesticides, genetic modification, and highly mechanized production systems, US farmers now produce 3,900 calories per US citizen per day. That’s twice the amount we need and 700 more calories per day more than they grew in 1980. Commodity farmers can only make ends meet by producing their maximum yields, so they do.

And here is the shocking plot twist: as farmers produced all those extra calories, the food industry figured out how to get them into the bodies of people who didn’t really want to eat 700 more calories a day. That is the well-oiled machine we call Late Capitalism.

Most of the calories that enter our mouth are hardly recognized as corn or soy or even vegetable: lecithin, citric acid, maltodextrin, sorbitol, and xanthan gum (for example) are all manufactured from corn. So are beef, eggs, and poultry, in a different but no less artificial process. Soybeans also become animal flesh, or else an ingredient called “added fats.” Remove every product containing corn or soybeans from the grocery store and it would look more like a hardware store (though the light bulbs would not be in boxes since many packaging materials now contain cornstarch).

With so many extra calories to deliver, food packages have gotten bigger. The 8 ounce Coke bottle of yesteryear morphed into 20 ounces of high-fructose corn syrup and carbonated water. As serving sizes increased, so did the American waistline. US consumption of  “added fats” has increased by one-third since 1975 and HFCS consumption is up by 1,000%.

True, no one held a gun to our head and forced us to super-size it, but humans have a built-in weakness for fats and sugar that evolved from caveman days of sparse food sources and a necessity for survival. Food marketers know these weaknesses and have exploited them to no mercy. Obesity is generally viewed as a failure of personal resolve, with no acknowledgment of the genuine conspiracy in this historical scheme. People actually did sit in a meeting room and discuss ways to get all those surplus calories into people who did not need them nor want them.

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Breakfast: Bagel with jelly
Lunch: Tofurkey sandwich
Dinner: Veggie burger, homemade mashed potatoes, and cantaloupe
megan & rob's wedding 033

Meatless Monday #25: Black Bean Fiesta

This is my absolute favorite thing to bring to parties.  It is incredibly easy and always gets rave reviews.  It can be eaten as a salad, or you can dig in with tortilla chips.

black bean fiesta

In a large bowl, mix:

1 can black beans, drained & rinsed
1 can corn, drained
1 avocado, chopped
1 large tomato, chopped
1/2 purple onion, chopped
1 jalapeno, chopped
1 handful cilantro, chopped
squeeze the juice of 1 lime
top with red wine vinegar and olive oil (like salad dressing)

Mix it all together… fantastico!

I made this for a bachelorette party last weekend, which reminds me… One of my friends made a 7 layer dip using vegan sour cream and soy cheese and everyone at the party gobbled it down with no clue that it was vegan!

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Join the the Meatless Monday movement! One day a week, cut out meat to reduce your risk of chronic preventable conditions like cancer, cardiovascular disease, diabetes and obesity. It can also help reduce your carbon footprint and save precious resources like fresh water and fossil fuel.

Why Are Vegetarians So Depressing?

by Martha Flumenbaum, from The Huffington Post

Animal agriculture is a bigger cause of global warming than cars.   You’d be better off driving a Hummer than eating a steak.

Eating too much meat can cause heart disease and cancer.

Factory farms cause pollution and the people who live near them are getting asthma.

Animals on factory farms never see the sun or touch the earth.

The animals that we eat are being fed so many antibiotics, that at this rate, in the future, antibiotics are not going to work on us.

Adult women who drink milk are 3 times more likely to have twins than women who don’t. Why is this? Because the cows are being fed so many hormones.

Care about world hunger? For every calorie we eat of meat, we are wasting 6 to 26 calories because instead of grass, we are feeding the animals corn and soy.

Not to mention the damage we are doing to the environment for the average amount of miles it takes us to ship our food to our supermarket. It would be like going from New York to Texas for dinner every night.

Care about animal cruelty?

The turkeys that we buy at the supermarket are so genetically altered that they can’t even physically sexually reproduce.

The chickens that we buy at the supermarket are so genetically altered that they cannot even physically walk.

 Chickens in nature live for ten years. We kill them at 38 to 41 days.

They are kept in crates piled 18 high in dark rooms with no light and their cages are never cleaned.

The crates are so close together that their beaks are cut off to prevent them from cannibalizing each other.

99% of animals are on factory farms. There are family farms that treat animals humanely but family farms could not feed all of Staten Island; let alone the world.

Just a few facts I learned last night at the Jewish Community Center of Manhattan’s program “Who Knew Food Could Be So Fraught?” with uber-downer Jonathan Safran Foer.

Ugh. Vegetarians are so depressing.

So, what’s the answer?

For Foer, the answer is simple. Stop eating meat.

But what? Why?

How can you tell me that I can’t have turkey at Thanksgiving? A hotdog at a baseball game? A barbeque for the Fourth of July? My mother’s brisket at Passover? Chicken soup when I have the flu?

All right, all right, all right.

You don’t have to become a vegetarian. It’s okay.

But do we have to eat meat so much?

We eat 150 times as much chicken as we did 80 years ago.

Maybe keep the chicken soup but don’t eat chicken nuggets in your car.

A little more apples, a little less Applebee’s. Keep the chili but lose the Chili’s. Have a burger but don’t have Burger King. It’s disposable eating so let’s dispose of it.

If you can’t cut meat out of your diet, cut down, cut back.

Don’t buy ground beef for a dollar at Wal-Mart. Don’t go to McDonalds.

Do meatless Mondays.

If you eat meat three times a day, try eating meat twice a day, or once a day, or a few times a week, or once a week.

Not everyone can quit eating meat but most people can cut back on it at least a little bit and make a difference.

So, let’s jump on the bandwagon here, folks. Because the other wagon seems to be filled with tortured animals, heart disease, cancer, asthma, pollution, floods, more hurricane Katrinas, melting polar ice caps, and the inability to use antibiotics.

And that sounds like a major downer.

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Breakfast: Bean & soy cheese taco (with an authentic San Antonio tortilla… mmm)
Lunch: Veggie wrap with avocado, cucumber, carrots, lettuce, sprouts, and black olives
Dinner: Vegetarian gyro (made with seasoned seitan) from The Greek Spot

Movie Review: Food, Inc.

food-inc

Food, Inc. is a fantastic summary of all the food-related issues in the US today.

Marketing
The way we eat has changed more in the past 50 years than in the previous 200. But we still use the same images of agarian America to sell food.

hillshire-farm-logo
Hillshire Farms, owned by Sarah Lee, a $12.8 billion company, represents itself with a little red barn.

There is a deliberate veil drawn between us and our food. Industry doesn’t want us to know where our food comes from because if we did, we might not want to eat it. In fact, 13 states even have laws making it illegal to criticize food (informally called “Veggie Libel Laws” because the criticism is usually aimed at the meat industry).

This issue isn’t just about what we’re eating, it isn’t just about health, it’s about what we’re allowed to say and allowed to know.

Monopolies
Just a handful of companies have changed the way we eat. The whole industrial food system began with fast food in the 1930’s. The McDonald brothers brought Ford’s idea of industrialization to food. Each person in their restaurants performed one simple task repeatedly (one person added the mustard to the bun, one person added the pickle, one person wrapped the burger in paper). This system allowed them to pay very low wages and to easily replace employees.

McDonald’s is now the single largest purchaser of both ground beef and potatoes inthe US. They are also one of the largest purchasers of lettuce, tomatoes, chicken, pork, and even apples. With McDonald’s focus on consistency (ensuring that a burger tastes exactly the same no matter where its ordered, or where the meat came from), they have led and driven the industrialization of our food chain. Today, even if you don’t eat fast food, you are eating meat out of this system.

Animals
By combining antibiotics, hormones, unhealthy diets, and genetic engineering, animals are fattened faster than ever before.

We have literally changed the chicken.
Layer-and-broiler
A layer hen (front) vs a broiler hen (back) at the same age of 6 weeks.

The food that is fed to livestock is cheap and fattening and is making the animals sick (which, in turn, is making us sick).

Farmers
Not only have we changed the chicken, but we have also changed the farmer. Today, nearly every chicken is owned by a large company (like Tyson’s or Perdue). The farmer simply raises them, but they are owned, from birth to slaughter, by a corporation. Farmers that raise chickens for a large company must continue to comply with the company’s regulations (such as upgrading their chicken houses on demand) which are often expensive. The typical chicken farmer has borrowed $500,000 and makes $18,000 a year. One chicken farmer who invited the cameras into her overcrowded chicken house said, “It is nasty in here. There’s dust and feces everywhere. This isn’t farming.”

Corn
What looks like a conicopia of veriety at the grocery store is not. it is an illusion. There are very few companies involved and even fewer crops. Nearly all of our food can be traced back to corn or soy. Much of our food is just clever rearrangements of corn and soy.

Thirty percent of the land-base in the US is planted by corn! Due to US government policy (the Farm Bill), farmers are paid to over-produce corn and soy. Since corn & soy are used in about 90% of processed foods, the large food companies lobby congress to continue these subsidies. This way, they’re able to buy corn & soy for cheaper than what it costs to produce.

Because corn is so cheap, it is fed to our livestock whose stomachs are not able to digest corn properly.  For more about this, see Feeding Our Food.

Food Safety (or lack thereof)
Feeding corn to animals that are not designed to eat corn has led to an abundance of an acid-resistant mutation of the E. coli virus.  This strain of the virus, which never existed prior to the industrialization of our food chain, is now prevalent in our food system.  The waste runoff from factory farms then spreads the E. coli to fruits and vegetables.

Each new step in “efficiency” that industrialization introduces to the food process just leads to more problems.  If a cow is taken off corn for 5 days (and instead eats grass), it will shed 85% of the E. coli in their system.  But instead of doing this, the industry comes up with another “solution” to the problem: ammonia washes.  Our meat is literally washed in ammonia (ya, the toxic stuff) to kill viruses and bacteria before it is packaged.

With all the new dangers in our food system today, you’d think the FDA would do something about it.  Turns out that in 1976, the FDA conducted 50,000 food inspections.  In 2006, they conducted less than 10,000.

Obesity
We have skewed the food system to favor the bad calories (High Fructose Corn Syrup is cheap) and it wasn’t an accident.  It is a direct result of US government subsidies.  Income is the highest predictor of obesity because a Big Mac is cheaper than a head of broccoli.  Type II diabetes used to only effect adults, but now it is effecting children in epidemic proportions.

Factory Farm Workers
The food industry has mastered the art of picking a workforce that they can exploit.  Slaughterhouses actively recruit in Mexico, seeking our employees who are desperate for a paycheck.  These type of employees can’t afford to quit or lose their jobs and the meat industry knows it and holds it over their heads.

The meatpacking companies even have agreements with immigration officers to give up as many as 15 illegal immigrants a day to avoid raids in their factories.

Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs)
In 1996, 2% of soybeans grown in the US contained GMOs.  In 2006, 90% contained GMOs.  Seventy percent of processed food in the US contains GMOs, yet none of it is labeled.  The food industry fights tooth and nail against labeling GMO ingredients.  They know that if we know what we’re eating, we may choose not to eat it.

Change
We have allowed ourselves to become disconnected and ignorant about something as intimate as what we are putting inside our mouths and bodies, but we have the power to change the system! When we run an item by the supermarket scanner, we are voting. (Even large corporations like WalMart have quit carrying milk containing synthetic growth hormones because of consumer demand.) It is up to us to demand a change.

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Breakfast: Bagel with “Better Than Cream Cheese” soy cream cheese
Lunch: Nachos with black beans, soy cheese, and homemade guacamole
Dinner: Veggie Pad Thai

High Fructose Corn Syrup

I’ve seen this ad SO MUCH lately! It is one of three commercials that the Corn Refiners Association created to “change the conversation about high-fructose corn syrup.”

The ad features a mother delivering the Corn Refiners’ message about high-fructose corn syrup, “It’s made from corn, doesn’t have artificial ingredients, and like sugar, it’s fine in moderation.”

Let’s take the Corn Refiners’ points one by one:

1. “It’s made from corn.” True. High-fructose corn syrup is indeed made from corn. But you won’t get the same beneficial nutrients in it that you would from eating an ear of corn.

2. “Doesn’t have artificial ingredients.” Partly true. The claim about artificial ingredients is a tricky one, since high-fructose corn syrup is processed using artificial agents. The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) stated that if the artificial agents do not come in contact with the corn starch, it can be considered a “natural” product. (By the way, it’s distinctions like these that lead the Consumers Union to consider the “natural” label not meaningful.)

3. “Like sugar, it’s fine in moderation.” True, BUT… most foods are fine in moderation. It’s too much that causes problems. And one would probably argue that with high-fructose corn syrup in so many products, to truly enjoy it in moderation you’d almost undoubtedly have to alter your eating habits.  (Challenge: check out the ingredients of the foods you buy from the center aisles of the grocery store – basically anywhere other than the produce, butcher, and dairy sections – and be shocked by the number of them that contain high-fructose corn syrup.)

So what has happened to “the conversation about high-fructose corn syrup” in the first place that led its manufacturers to want to rehabilitate its reputation?

In 2004, researchers from the Louisiana State University and University of North Carolina published a paper that theorized that high-fructose corn syrup (HFCS) in beverages could play a role in the obesity epidemic. They looked at the correlation between the 1,000% increase in HFCS consumption between 1970 and 1990, and a correlating rise in obesity rates. Because of the way the body metabolizes fructose from beverages, the researchers argued, it likely plays a role in the obesity epidemic.

High fructose corn syrup has become one of the boogeymen of processed foods. It has been implicated in a rise of Type 2 diabetes, obesity, and other health problems.  However, HFCS and white sugar are almost identical chemically; each is about half fructose and half glucose.

The association between high-fructose corn syrup and obesity may reflect that we consume so much of it. Nearly all sugars add empty calories to our diets. And because HFCS is the main sweetener in soft drinks and is used in most processed foods (including breakfast cereals, salad dressings, cheese spreads, yogurts, jams, peanut butters, canned fruits, canned soups, frozen foods, bottled juices, and so many many many others), most people consume more of it than any other sugar.

But that doesn’t mean that there’s definitely no added risk from fructose in general. For example, a new study of rats by researchers from the University of Florida suggests that a diet high in fructose may lead the body to develop a resistance to a protein called leptin, which helps control appetite.

We do know that Americans can stand to cut back on sugar. According to the USDA, the average American should consume no more than about 40 grams of added sugars a day (added sugars don’t include those that occur naturally in fruit and other foods) but the average American consumes more than three times that. People who want to limit their overall sugar intake would be wise to cut down on products that have added sugars, including high-fructose corn syrup, listed among the first several ingredients (which are listed in order by proportional weight).
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Breakfast: English muffin with jelly (which lists “high fructose corn syrup” as well as “corn syrup” as ingredients)
Lunch: Veggie sub from Harris Teeter
Dinner: Chickenless nuggets and homemade fries

Meatless Monday #7: Vegetarian Chili

So perfect for a cold winter day!
And so easy: Just throw all this stuff in a big pot and heat until warm.

Veggie Chili

Ingredients

2-3 cans of different types of beans (or if you prefer not to use canned beans, cook beans ahead of time). Good bean options are: black, pinto, kidney, white, black-eyed peas, chickpeas

Various chopped veggies – choose any you like! Such as: onion, bell peppers, corn, celery, jalapeno, carrots

1 can peeled, crushed tomatoes (with liquid)
1 4oz can tomato sauce
1-2 4oz cans chopped green chile peppers, drained

1 teaspoon ground cumin
2 tablespoons dried oregano
1/2 tablespoon salt
1/2 tablespoon pepper
3 garlic cloves, chopped
1/8 – 1/4 cup of chili powder (start with less, you can always add more!)

Optional: Meatless crumbles (from the frozen aisle – like Boca or Morning Star) – I really like the texture these add to the chili

Directions:

1. Cover the bottom of the pot with olive oil. Add all ingredients to the pot and heat until veggies are to desired tenderness and chili is warmed all the way through. (I usually do about 15-20 mins.)

Veggie Chili