Corn is bad for your body, your car & the environment

As you know if you come here often, we sometimes write about corn and also about carbon, two of my favorite poisons. Here’s a very nice routine from humorist Lee Camp that covers both.

Look for the phrase “corn nugget with a hint of chicken.” Yes, over 75% of the ingredients in “chicken nuggets” are corn products. Monsanto should get naming rights.

But it’s not just chicken nuggets. Corn weasels its way into so  many of our foods, we’re like “walking corn chips.” From Dr. Sanjay Gupta at CNN:

“We’re like corn chips walking because we really have a very, very large fraction of corn in our diets, and we actually can’t help it because it’s an additive in so many of the foods we find on the market shelves,” Dawson says.

Foods like ketchup, salad dressing, soda, cookies and chips all contain corn, usually high fructose corn syrup.

“I think where the danger comes in with corn is that much of the corn grown now in North America is going into making high fructose corn syrup,” Dawson says. “So it’s not that corn per se is bad, but it’s the sweetener made from corn that gets into many of the foods that Americans are probably consuming too much of, and we now see that showing up as obesity and heart disease and potential for type 2 diabetes.”

Do click. And better put on those earphones first — Camp uses big-boy words, many of them.

My personal addition to this righteous rant has to do with automobiles — cars should be rebranded “carbon delivery systems.” As in:

“I see you bought a new carbon delivery system. Does it deliver less carbon than your last one? Hey, way to save the grandkids!”

Camp’s ethanol joke, terrific in its own right, could easily be adapted.

By the way, much of the information that Camp used is from this handy infographic. Here’s just a piece, the ethanol part:


Click the image to see the rest of the graphic; it’s rather well done. Corn, now with two ways to kill you. You can eat it and burn it. As the website said, “3 out of every 4 products in the grocery store contain some form of corn.”

Amazing what you can do with your own corporate senators, isn’t it? Click through and look for the name Franken in an under-the-radar vote.


To follow or send links: @Gaius_Publius

Gaius Publius is a professional writer living on the West Coast of the United States.

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18 Responses to “Corn is bad for your body, your car & the environment”

  1. your worst nightmoare. says:

    Thank you hhig, I was thinking the same thing. People fail to understand that greenhouse gasses aren’t even a real problem. Global warming? Yeah, that’s why its getting colder than ever right now. They also fail to realise the carbon releasing when ethanol and other bio-fuels are burned, is cycles carbon from the air, so its not really adding anything. Burning fossil fuels releases carbon that has been buried under ground for thousands of years. I remember when some bigot tried to do a presentation on this in my environmental sciences class, and me and everyone else tore him apart with fact. This is just garbage funded by the fossil fuel industry, who has actually bought out many renewable and free energy patents, just go look at shells patents before talking with your pre-convinced notions. Also, people fail to realise all the corn and soy bashing is just a distraction. Corn? Haha, Algae bio fuels have been around longer than corn bio fuels. Algae can produce hydrogen gas, bio fuels many times denser than bio-fuels (Algae contains 80% oil content, soil is around 40%), as well as a food product that contains all amino acids, many minerals, and is high in B-vitamins. What else do fossil fuels give us? Endocrine disrupting plastic bottles? Mercury polluted water all over northern Canada? Oil spills of Non-biodegradable fossil fuels in coral reefs, and other parts of the ocean? This is just like nuclear power bashers. Little to they know coal is radioactive, as well as the ash that is pumped into the sky. Nuclear power plants work in closed loop system and all accidents have been man made, not machine error. Fossil fuel plants have killed more people than nuclear power. Low natural dose radiation is actually necessary for life and beneficial for health, so don’t post some anti-Radiation BS either. Grow up and go learn real science.

  2. Your humor is giving me an ear ache.







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  4. Naja pallida says:

    Don’t forget that, by it self, corn is also pretty nutrient deficient. There’s a reason why they have to fortify everything that contains corn. If all you are doing is growing it and consuming it, it’s basically just cardboard starch. Back in the early 1900s, there was a major outbreak of pellagra in the southern US, because the diet of most people, especially poor people, was primarily corn-based and were not getting the B vitamins they needed. After that, fortifying became commonplace. Even legally required for some things.

  5. Naja pallida says:

    The United States has basically designed its entire infrastructure around a family having at least one car per working member of the household. In many cities, public transit is at best, inconvenient… but in other places, it’s almost impossible to function relying solely on it. Here, if I were to use public transit to commute, I’d have to drive about 12 miles to a park and ride, and factor in about another 3 hours per day of waiting/driving all over the damn place on four different buses (2 going, 2 coming back). Or, I can just drive myself 20 minutes each way. Little longer if there’s a traffic snafu or bad weather. Walking, too far to do conveniently. Biking, around here with ignorant drivers, narrow shoulders, and poorly designed intersections, riding a bike is basically signing a suicide pact. So I keep a well maintained carbon delivery system, that gets decent gas mileage, and will probably upgrade to something like the Chevy Volt, once they make one that doesn’t make me dry heave looking at it, and actually has enough space in it for human beings.

    Congress and states won’t even allocate enough funding to maintain our existing infrastructure. What are the chances of something coming out of the woodwork to actually upgrade it to something actually better?

  6. hhig says:

    that big scary “info”graphic is full of errors and spurious, cherry picked claims. you really should be more skeptical.

    ethanol will probably do little to reduce greenhouse gasses, but it certainly does not produce “nearly twice as much” greenhouse gasses. ( there’s also peer reviewed research that says the opposite:

    the ethanol uses 6x more energy claim is completely bogus:

    the 1.5 gallons vs. 1 gallon claim is also wrong. it’s more like 1.3 gallons to 1 as ethanol contains 66.67% the energy of gasoline, not half.

    cant find a fact check on the food claim, but most of the problems with starvation is the failure of local crops, a disaster, and politics and issues with distributing supplies. and if our corn would actually be going to feed starving people, why would you want to condemn them to awful health and a future of problems from eating such a horrible, horrible foodstuff?

    that being said, corn subsidies should be scaled way, way back and ethanol should just be a transition fuel to other, better alternative fuels that are also renewable. but basing your anti-corn position on bogus points is the wrong way to do it.

  7. karmanot says:

    A cornucopia of disaster, but I can see a kernel of truth in the article.

  8. Hue-Man says:

    Updating myself on corn ethanol energy balance reminded me how difficult the question is because it all depends on where you start. As an extreme example, do you have to count the energy that went into producing the steel needed to make the corn harvester (as well as the energy consumed to get the steel from the steel plant to the harvester manufacturing plant to the farmer, etc.)? Even if the balance slightly favors corn ethanol, why would you dump massive government subsidies into corn production and ethanol production, if it resulted in only a marginal improvement over consuming the energy directly in automobiles?! Especially given the environmental damage resulting from ag-industrial corn production.

    That’s when I stumbled on this from last month: “New anti-dumping duties
    against the United States will reshape the European Union’s
    ethanol biofuel sector, creating opportunities for European
    producers and imports from Latin America.” and “U.S. ethanol imports accounted for up to 20 percent of EU
    consumption in 2011, EU ethanol lobby ePure data showed. They
    jumped to 1.17 billion litres in 2011 from 102 million in 2009.”

    The other piece to the puzzle is the U.S. quota on (much cheaper) imported sugar: “While U.S. sugar cane and sugar beet growers produce most of the
    country’s supply of the sweetener, the World Trade Organization requires
    the U.S. to allow a minimum of 1.23 million short tons of no- or
    low-tariff raw-sugar imports each year.” and “The U.S. consumes 11.5 million short tons of sugar annually.”

    Remind me how the United States of America is a wonderful Free Trader? What government deficit? What drought? (BTW, what climate change?)

  9. nicho says:

    It’s not stupid at all. Your situation doesn’t mean that cars aren’t carbon delivery system. It also doesn’t mean you’re at fault. What’s at fault here is a society and an infrastructure that is designed to make you totally reliant on a car to do the most basic tasks. Imagine if you could conduct your job search, shop, go out for a meal, meet with your friends, etc. without the need for a car. Life would be so much better — and cheaper.

  10. BeccaM says:

    What I’m driving at is there is tons of corporate cash involved in pushing corn-friendly policies, even in areas where it is far from an ideal solution to some problem.

  11. What are you driving at with this? I think it’s absolutely amazing, really. I actually read up on corn processing a bit on my own when I was researching how “corn steep liquor” was obtained for use for microbiological culturing. They don’t waste one little bit of that corn, not even the water that’s used to break the corn down in the first place. If corn is regarded as the “do all” crop it is because, seriously, it can do a hell of a lot.

  12. **** Corn, now with two ways to kill you. ****

    Better make that three ways, at least potentially. Years ago I was reading up on the Anasazi warfare in the US Southeast, and ran into some hints that good, old-fashioned, non-GMO corn could be bad stuff in the human diet. Most of my books are still boxed, but an internet search turned up a generic reference to the issue.

    — Countries above the median in corn consumption have significantly higher homicide rates than countries below the median in corn consumption. Research from a variety of sources suggests the hypothesis that populations consuming corn-based diets may have high homicide rates due to a reduction in brain tryptophan and/or serotonin. —
    Of course the first two are worse, but…..

  13. BeccaM says:

    The subtext lurking behind this post isn’t hard to see: It’s all about money.

    Money in the form of subsidies and price supports, and in the form of policies designed to push corn as the “do all” crop. It’s the proverbial hammer that sees everything as a nail.

    BTW, I found this chart to be fascinating — and it also explains how ethanol production, corn oils, wet cattle feed, and high fructose corn syrup are all intertwined.

    (Source: which attributes the chart to the University of Nebraska Institute of Agriculture, although the link they use appears to be no longer valid.)

  14. …cars should be rebranded “carbon delivery systems.”
    That’s just stupid. As someone who’s been forced to drive many hours sometimes in an increasingly desperate attempt to find a job in my field, it’s actually rather insulting. Without my “carbon delivery system” I’d be even more screwed.

  15. Well, they were using something better as a gasoline anti-knock additive, methyl t-butyl ether, which is less hygroscopic and blends better. But then there were some highly publicized spills and leaks so it was phased out in favor of ethyl alcohol.

  16. Naja pallida says:

    Can do damage to older cars too. Industry tests have shown that pretty much any car made before about 2001 can be damaged from use of E15… which isn’t readily available yet, but it’s what they’re pushing for. Still, any ethanol blend, over time, can cause damage if the engine wasn’t designed with burning ethanol in mind. And they were testing specifically for metallurgical damage, not just the easily replaced things like hoses and seals.

  17. nicho says:

    If you thought the tobacco lobby was vicious, try going up against the corn lobby. They have already poisoned our food supply and they’re not going to stop until you pry the last cob from their cold, dead hands.

  18. Daniel says:

    Did you know that ethanol will eat up the plastic lines on your lawn equipment? Horrible for boats as it attracts moisture. Wish they’d get rid of it.

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