It would be great if we were just eating corn on the cob and it would be even better if we saw more than just yellow, but now the most commonly grown and cheapest crop is corn. It's in everything! From the meat you eat to the pop you drink to the cereal you have for breakfast, you're probably eating more corn than you thought.
The most commonly use sweetener is derived from corn. Corn syrup is in nearly everything that's processed and sweetened on the shelf, making up 55% of the nutritive sweetener market. It's hard to find pop sweetened with just sugar, it's generally sweetened with corn syrup in America. Check out this link for how corn syrup is made: www.madehow.com/Volume-4
The basics of how corn syrup is made, based on that link, is that the kernels are cleaned, soaked in a solution of water and sulfur dioxide for a day or two, ground, separated, then the part they use to make the syrup is heated under pressure with water and hydrochloric acid, which is filtered to get rid of any more impurities, then heated some more to get rid of any remaining water that is undesired, depending on if they wish it to be liquid or a "corn syrup solid". If high-fructose corn syrup is desired, because of it's sweeter taste, it goes through an enzyme process which uses controlled temperatures, pressures and acidity.
The corn companies are trying to get corn syrups to be the primary source of sweetener for everything. It seems to be doing a good job of that since it's become the primary source since the 1970's. King Corn is a great documentary about how corn has made its way into everything and how pesticide laden it it: www.kingcorn.net/
Some of the things left from the process for making corn syrup is sent to other things. The next big thing is that the leftovers from that process is sent to feed lots on corporate farms (and some small farms, know your farmer to see how much the animal gets in feed corn). Corn is one of the biggest things that are fed to the animals on the corporate farms (which rarely see a grassy field and in some cases never), in addition to soy. Your pets may be fed this corn also, check the labeling on your pet's bag of food, it should have the word corn next to something to tell you where the corn is.
Next comes corn starch. You might think it's just a little bottle of a fun type of science experiment to prove the liquid or solid state (try it sometime with approximately 1 cup corn starch to .5 cup water), but it's used in many more products than that. pbskids.org/dragonflytv/
Corn starch is used in many things. It's used in glues, paper, helping cool down the machinery for drilling oil, batteries, trash bags, cosmetics, medicines, removing cholesterol from milk and egg products, laundry sheets (dryer sheets), absorbents in diapers, biodegradable packaging peanuts, and even for soaking up pesticides, just to name a few.
Then comes the oil. Corn oil is used to cook many foods. It's high in mono and poly unsaturated fats. It's one of the many oils on the market today.
The other type of oil that is made from this crop is for your car. Ethanol is one more use for corn. It may be a great renewable source for fuel instead of drilling up oil from the earth that will end up being dried up eventually.
Corn would be great, if used in moderation, but it's in everything! Plus it's used from one type of corn (yellow #2 dent corn) instead of a variety of different types of corn. We're supposed to only get as much as 100 calories (or 10% of your diet at most) in added sweeteners, that includes corn syrup and sugars, but everything processed is sweetened making most people get their max in one or two items.
The high-fructose corn syrup debate is out there as to if that's why people are obese, but I still think it's a variety of these food changes that make it way too easy to get fat. We're getting more nutrient lacking items in our diets and less nutrient dense items in our diets. It's less salads and more fries and sodas with your meal.
Want to know one more thing? The farmers wouldn't make a dime on a corn crop if it weren't for the government subsidies on the crop. In fact, the King Corn acre would have come out in the negative from what the market was bearing that year if the government didn't bring their one acre up to just over $2 for their yield (after what they spent on keeping the crop alive that season). Cheap is not always worth it when we're talking about a farmer's livelihood.
Today's holidays: Flower Day, Eliza Doolittle Day, Victoria Day (in Canada), Pick Strawberries Day (I'm not sure they're growing here yet), National Be a Millionaire Day (in my heart only, I wasn't the Powerball winner), and National Quiche Lorraine Day.