Corn – Staff of Life or Dearth of Life?
Article by Luigi Kleinsasser
Corn – the staff of life or the dearth of life?
From the Caribbean Arawak language Columbus took the word marise which means “source of life”, modified it to mahiz which eventually became maize.
But the question remains: Is corn the ‘staff of life’ or not?
In modern terms it’s certainly a versatile crop that grows rapidly and provides a bountiful harvest. The United States has such an abundance of corn that with government subsidies, food and chemical processors can buy it more cheaply than it costs to produce. It can then be used as a food for Man and his animals, but can be converted into a sweetener, fuel, dyes, soap, plastic, starch and insulation.
However, corn is a man-made crop and uncared for cannot survive in Nature. Because it’s such a fragile plant and in its original form lacked many nutritional qualities it’s been genetically engineered over the past 100 years so as to make it hardier and more nutritious.
Maize has been a staple food in many countries, but due to its deficiency in protein and calcium, those populations are generally shorter in stature than people whose diet is higher in protein. It does contain a fairly good mixture of vitamins but the method of processing and cooking determines whether or not those nutrients become available.
The traditional way of making tortillas, by soaking the grain in lime before grinding it into flour, releases the valuable nutrient, niacin, essential for the prevention of the itching skin-disease, pellagra. Any other method of processing makes the niacin unavailable and early in the 20th Century, hundreds of thousands of people in America’s Southern States, who lived almost exclusively on poorly processed corn, died of pellagra, many of them in mental institutions.
Even today, Third World countries where corn makes up the basis of the daily diet have extreme infant mortality rates and suffer excessively from pellagra.
Because of the high levels of lectin in maize (as well as in all grains and beans), corn has been implicated as the cause of many allergies. All grains, including maize, contain high levels of phytic acid that acts to leach minerals, especially calcium and iron, from the human system. When cereal is combined with soy milk, the leeching affect increases greatly and has been incriminated in the continuing increase in the rates of osteoporosis.
Maize is an appropriate food for ruminant animals who are able to manufacture the digestive enzyme phytase. Humans do not produce that enzyme and a diet founded on cereal with milk, tortillas and corn on the cob should not be considered healthy or nutritious and can lead to serious illness.
For all of those reasons, cereal was removed from the Four Food Groups Chart and placed “to the side”, recommended for use only as a supplement rather than a staple. With the help of lobbyists, an amended version suggests “at least 3 ounces of whole-wheat bread per day”!
Sure, corn tastes great and fills the belly but should be considered more of a ‘survival’ food rather than a health-food.
About the Author
Luigi Kleinsasser is a certified fitness instructor and diet counsellor specializing in general health improvement through weight-management and effective fitness programs. His website is http://www.luigiwho.com