It’s Corn! You’re Eating Corn!

I try to be aware of what I put into my body, so I tend to be a man who reads the food labels. I also tend to read CD liner notes and the copyright and acknowledgment pages in books. Perhaps its a borderline obsession… But I digress.

As I said, I like to read the labels and know what I’m eating. That way I can purchase the best possible food items available, not ones with filler materials (like xantham gum in cream cheese), or preservatives (like sodium benzoate in lemon juice). I also try to avoid anything with a corn-derived product on the list, unless I’m explicitly buying something like corn meal or tortilla chip or, well, corn!

Corn: they stick it into everything – your bread, your fruit juice, your ice cream, your iced tea… They probably fry your potato chips in it. They probably fed it to the livestock that you eat or from which you get your dairy.

I know, I know, this isn’t news. People like New York Times Magazine contributor and UC Berkley Knight Professor of Journalism Michael Pollan have been railing against corn as a cheap food additive for years, and against U.S. agricultural policy that promotes the excessive production of this crop.

But, have you ever heard of corn being in your soy sauce? That was a new one… Granted, the package of soy sauce in question came from a Chinese fast food joint (how much could I expect from fast food?), but can they even really call it soy sauce when the third ingredient is “hydrolyzed soy & corn protein”? And when they have to add “caramel color” to make it look right?

The packaging, oddly enough, also claimed “No MSG” and that the sauce in question was Pareve. That first claim, while technically true – no MSG was added to the sauce – does not mean that there is no MSG in the sauce. It turns out that any hydrolyzed protein inherently contains MSG!

It’s a little harder to get to the truth about the Pareve nature of the soy sauce. Was the sauce really processed according to Jewish dietary law? Fortunately, as I’m not Jewish, I’m not as concerned about this, although kosher foods tends to be handled in a much more clean and humanitarian way.

Back to the point at hand. Since when did they need to start adding corn to create soy sauce? Usually its just soy beans and/or wheat, depending on whether it’s tamari or shoyu. But corn?

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