🌽 CORN FACTS 🌽
You are slowly realizing it has literally been years, maybe decades, since you ate any meal made without corn.
I absolutely guarantee you every meal you have eaten in the last 365 days has been made with corn.
Did you eat something packaged in a paper bag? That’s lined with corn.
Did you eat something with citric acid? That’s not lemon. That’s corn. https://pbs.twimg.com/media/DuqD0M4UYAA-e4r.jpg
Did you eat something with honey in it? It’s diluted with corn syrup. Did you eat raw honey? Bees are fed corn syrup.
I am not joking about everything being made from corn.
Cows eat corn, but milk isn’t made from corn, right? Correct.
Except, what is milk fortified with? Vitamin D.
How does Vitamin D get in milk? It’s soluble in vegetable oil then mixed in.
What is the vegetable oil made from? Corn.
Bananas aren’t made from corn, right? Correct.
How are bananas ripened? With ethylene gas.
How is ethylene produced in the United States? From catalytic converters using ethanol.
Where does ethanol come from in the United States? Corn.
I wish you could see the world the way I see the world.
Virtually all consumer vitamin capsules use active ingredients, stabilizers, or production stearates sourced from corn.
Surfactants in shampoo and dishwashing liquid are often chemically processed with corn glucose. Cosmetics are often corn. (‘zea mays’ = maize)
You use corn to remove corn from your dishes.
You take a shower and clean yourself with the help of corn.
You coat yourself with corn.
Corn is applied to cardboard boxes during production.
Table salt uses corn to help iodine stick to the particles.
Windex uses 2-hexoxyethanol, which is made from corn.
Animals eat corn, but meat isn’t corn, right? Correct.
How is bacteria controlled in meat cutting operations? Increasingly, by spraying lactic acid.
Where does lactic acid come from? Fermenting glucose.
Where does glucose come from? Often, corn syrup.
You live in a society whose every production industry is based around a government-subsidized chemical feedstock.
Corn is not a food. Corn is a platform.
More commentary on how rich corn is for weaving a narrative of the American century:
You’ve got government market subsidy, political weight of low-population states, energy insecurity, environmental issues, agribusiness consolidation, hyper-productivity despite decreasing labor, food basket dynamics in world wars, 20th century chemical revolution, obesity, etc
Dr. Sarah Taber's perspective on corn:
If you want to understand US agriculture, you gotta understand one thing.
It's not even about making food.
It's a real estate hustle.
Land in the Midwest ... isn't really good for much. Sure, the soil's real nice, but the growing season is too short for most globally-traded cash crops.
The Midwest is exactly the kind of giant wet low-population area you'd want for cash crops. Except most of the big-money ones are tropical, & Midwest has a 3-6 month growing season. You're stuck with annual crops. "Well what's wrong w wheat, flax, oats, rye, hemp, & other short-season cash crops?"
Hemp ain't been legal
We can't use an entire Midwest's worth of oats & rye
Wheat & flax grow nearly everywhere, including huge areas of arid US west. Too much competition to rely on.
Enter maize & soybeans. Here's what they bring to table:
Short-lived enough to make use of Midwest growing season
Need lots of water- that cuts out competition from the US West
Humans can't eat them, but that's ok, they're just infinitely fungible starch & protein.
If you're just growing raw sources of starch & protein, you can just handle market gluts by inventing a new use. That's harder to do with crops that make something less malleable like fiber, or (in case of wheat, oats, rye, & most grains) a mid-yield mix of starch & protein.
And boy do we get our market gluts on. Because for 3-6 months every year, the Midwest turns into a giant hot wet basin of plant growing power.
But: without a platform like corn & soybeans, hot wet plains are just hot wet plains. They're not a financial powerhouse.
You couldn't, say, include farmland as a securitized asset in investment funds.
The Food Discourse(TM) really fixates on how corn is used after it's grown. "Oh my God! It's in everything!"
I'm more interested in what that means for those who possess the land to grow it & what that means for our society.
Part of the Food Discourse (TM)'s fascination with food manufacturing is that it's fairly recent. It feels new & foreign. And, you can see the size of the facilities and visualize the money that it takes to build and run them.
It's a fairly new way to accumulate wealth. It's visible. And it fits with our "wealth is capital is manufacturing & Wall Street" mentality. So we fixate on it.
Meanwhile, most folks have no idea what the value of farmland is. Or that subsidies don't go to the people growing the corn- they go to the people who own the land it grows on.
Most folks have no idea that the big hustle in food isn't food. It's real estate.
That doesn't fit with our image of how wealth works in a capitalist society.
Capitalism is supposed to mean new, modern, and scary! Farmland is ancient and wholesome! Farming is our one connection to more wholesome times!
Farm landlords were grinding people to death for thousands of years before capitalism was ever invented.
Real estate's always been the ideal asset. Can be used for food, minerals, or development- and you can collect rents pretty much infinitely w zero work.
But thanks to our focus on "bad stuff in our economy = modern = capitalism = industry" & "agriculture = old = good," we rarely see farmland as being an asset that can be traded globally.
AND 👏 THAT'S 👏 EXACTLY 👏 HOW 👏 THE 👏 GOD 👏 DAMN 👏LANDLORDS 👏 WANT 👏 IT
We're busy fretting about agribusiness and food processing, meanwhile real live land barons are out here collecting rent & subsidy checks on millions of acres and using it as low-risk ballast for their portfolios.
To be clear: Wall Street is part of this.
So are good ol' boys.
Most rural counties are run by 2-3 families that quietly own a huge slice of the land. You want to know why rural areas are so fucked up? It ain't the coastal elites. It's the landlords right there in the county.
Rural landlords might collect their rent checks directly from their serfs, I mean neighbors in the county instead of a hedge fund office in Manhattan. But they've got the same job. Own land, futz around all day, profit.
Ever notice how most proposals to solve farm-related problems- not enough food, too much food, soil conservation, wildlife conservation, water shortages- all seem to boil down to "throw money at land owners"?
Isn't that weird?
The philosophy behind conservation payments is sometimes people own farmland that's too fragile to farm.
But not farming loses money! Therefore, we must pay them not to farm it!
Is anybody asking why own "farmland" that can't be farmed in the first place?
This is a problem that could be solved a lot of different ways. Trusts, land buybacks, tax writeoffs for donating to conservation, etc. These are all used to some extent.
But the big federal programs are all built around sending landowners a reliable subsidy check every year.
So ... yeah. Sometimes rural land ownership is just an instrument for rich people to extort bribes from taxpayers. "Pay me or I'll ruin your water."
And sometimes you just monetize it on the corn platform.
Either way, it's a huge asset class. In many ways it's more influential & politically powerful than the "industrial food" sector we've been taught to fear. But it's invisible, distant, and quiet, monetizing the earth in ways few of us understand.
If you want to know more about the spread of corn than you ever wanted to, I recommend @CornAllergyGirl. She has to basically custom-make a lot of her own food and stockpile it. But it’s not just food. https://cornallergygirl.com/
3D printing? One of two material options is PLA plastic, made from corn.
Tattoos? Ink liquid base is probably corn.
Frozen fish? Often glazed in a mixture of corn starch/corn syrup to prevent dehydration and oxidation, which polyunsaturated fats in fish are vulnerable to.
It doesn't matter if your fish is fresh from Alaska, it's getting processed and dipped in corn from the American midwest.
Ranch dressing? Does that have corn in it?
Why does USA use corn syrup instead of sugar? It's by design.
"import quota for sugar that limits imports to keep the price as high as possible for American consumers" "US consumers and producers pay approximately three times the world price of sugar"
Some of this is also consumer demand for things that say “natural” regardless of merit. You know what’s natural? Corn. Make it out of corn and you can call it natural or plant-based. They’re not making plastic bags out of okra.
Another important addendum: This has nothing to do with a subversive conspiracy or GMOs.
Corn is a rich source of infinitely-flexible polysaccharide starch. The same thing with rice. Corn is dominant because of pricing not because it’s a single tentpole.
The fact corn is everywhere is a function of chemistry and incentive. You could do this with potatoes. They’re just significantly less productive. Corn is genetically special because it uses highly efficient C4 carbon fixation. Evolved naturally.
Below ~400ppm CO2, C3 plants are more efficient at carbon capture than C4s, but they are less efficient with water.
As the world approaches 400ppm, there are a LOT of ecosystems that will start to flip. Which is to say, collapse into a new equilibrium.
There’s no syrup in corn. It’s rich in starch, which is how you then make syrup. Rice is also rich in starch. This is chemistry. Again, Corn is a Platform.
Biodegradable foam packing peanuts? Corn.
Did you buy a "natural organic" mattress? Soybean or corn.
Did you eat something made with baking powder? That's got corn in it.
Scientific literature on the use of terrestrial plants like corn to feed farmed fish
“is of utmost importance to reduce the presence of [fishmeal] in aqua-feeds and replace it with plant-based sources”
Did you eat something with citric acid? That’s not lemon. That’s corn. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Citric_acid
In 1917, American food chemist James Currie discovered certain strains of the mold Aspergillus niger could be efficient citric acid producers, and the pharmaceutical company Pfizer began industrial-level production using this technique two years later, followed by Citrique Belge in 1929. In this production technique, which is still the major industrial route to citric acid used today, cultures of A. niger are fed on a sucrose or glucose-containing medium to produce citric acid. The source of sugar is corn steep liquor, molasses, hydrolyzed corn starch or other inexpensive sugary solutions. After the mold is filtered out of the resulting solution, citric acid is isolated by precipitating it with calcium hydroxide to yield calcium citrate salt, from which citric acid is regenerated by treatment with sulfuric acid, as in the direct extraction from citrus fruit juice.
Did you know that a lot of 3D printer plastic filament is made from corn https://m.all3dp.com/2/bio-filaments-for-3d-printing-explained-and-compared/