Monday, September 28, 2009

I'm Still Here...

Kind of. So I mentioned a few blogs ago that I was going through a break-up and I'm still having a rough time with it, on top of having some health issues that I'm trying to work through. I've lost a fair amount of weight and haven't had much of an appetite so I'm going to go on a haitus, and eat whatever I feel like for a bit, just so I'm eating something. I'm not totally falling off the wagon though. Im still very mindful on what's in my food and am still doing lots of cooking for myself (just made a great Tuscan tomato soup with the end of the summers tomatoes!).
So I'll be back. I haven't totally given up the corn free dream.
I'll be back!

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

The iPhone App of My Dreams...Almost

So I was reading The Life Ledger blog again when I read about an iPhone application that I immediately had to download. It's called "Food Additives" and lists many of those crazy chemical thingies that are listed on the back of food boxes that we, as the normal consumer, have no idea what they mean.

I was playing with it last night and have to say I was mildly disappointed, not only as a non-corn eater, but as a regular old consumer. They have an alphabetical listing of many food additives (not all, as I couldn't find plain old fashion maltodextrin) and then gives information on the additive like if its plant or animal based or just straight up chemical and if its been gauged to be a potential danger or not. Which I have to say I was disturbed by how many were classified as undecided or possible dangers. My other disappoint was that although if did say if chemicals were plant based, that didn't tell if it was corn based! I need more details, people!

So if the creators of the application read this blog, please let us know exactly what plants these additives are derived from. But for everyone else who reads this and is concerned about whats in your food, then I highly suggest checking out this application


Sunday, September 6, 2009

College Football + Corn = BFFs

This weekend was the first UVa home game and I must admit I had some fears about how to tailgate corn and meat free. And rightfully so. Tailgating with my male friends from college involves lots of grilling (no veggie burgers of any kind in sight) and lots accompaniments. Cheap accompaniments. Like Kroger brand ketchup and chips, which of course had some form of corn in them. So that left me at the tailgate drinking beer (which I was later told might contain HFCS! Still looking into whether Bud Light poses a threat to my corn free lifestyle), and eating pistachios. Yes, someone brought a few nuts and I got to nibble on them like the squirrel I am. Oh, but wait, squirrels eat corn, so squirrely I am not.

Anyways, we left the tailgate for the UVa/William and Mary home game without tickets, being advised by well versed non-ticket-holders that it was ridiculously easy to scalp a ticket for $10 or less. Sounded awesome.

An hour later we've walked at least a mile to the stadium plus however much else we walked around Grounds (thats UVa terminology for campus) looking for tickets with no avail, as apparently the game was sold out. According to these well versed non-ticket-holder friends of ours, this was the first time this had happened in their history of attending UVa games. The 4 of us who did not have tickets weren't giving up and decided to get crafty and go to first year dorms and ask the awkward, anti-social kids if we could borrow their student id in return for collateral of our own ids. Sounds like a great idea, until you figure that the awkward, anti-social kids are probably going to be the last ones out there to trust random alum with ids that they've only had two weeks, and that they view as their life lines.

Anyways, at this point, I'm ridiculously hungry. I was being convinced to continue on this journey with the promise of stadium food, which guaranteed was all chocked full of corn. So I'm not doing so hot and my mood quickly degrading. And this is where desperation comes in. When chatting with some adorable little first year girls about where they think they highest concentration of anti-social kids were, I spotted a picnic table strewn with three family size packs of white flour hot dog buns. And I've never seen hot dog buns that looked so good. Nevermind that they were white flour, or that they had been sitting out for hours, Girlfriend was HUNGRY. The lovely little first years generously offered them to me, and I immediately jumped on their offer. Until I read the ingredient label, and shocker, they had high fructose corn syrup in them. BREAD! BREAD! Someone, somewhere, was laughing at me.

So I stayed strong, and resisted. My friends were giving up on the idea of tickets and a bar on the corner with food and booze was looking better and better. So I waited.

We ended up at Boylan Heights, a gourmet burger bar on the Corner, which has a killer veggie burger (yay!). My friend Ashley and I got there before our other friends and decided to order an appetizer. Now let me tell you something about Ashley. She's one of my very best friends, and has jokingly decided to only eat corn for the next year to make up for the corn I'm not eating. Funny yes, and I'll share some of her "blogs" (she writes on my facebook wall about her progress and uses that as documentation) with you later. Well back to the story. Ashley and I sit down and check out the appetizers and she gets very excited about one in particular that she wants to split with me - the corn dog bites. I gave her this look and said, "Of all the foods on this menu, you have to choose the hot dogs WITH CORN? HELLO!?" And she was totally seriously and then we had a good chuckle about it after

So I ended up ordering the Boylan Veggie Burger that they make in house, thinking, that well, since its made in house, its safe. I anxiously awaited its arrival, only to be disappointed to see pieces of corn springing out of it. Now this brings up the debate some people have brought up to me as to whether it was wrong to eat actual corn - corn on the cob, corn salsa, etc. And I dont think it is. I think corn is delicious and a great food, however, I don't eat it that often and didn't think it would be hard to delete from my diet. Until you run across it in vegetarian soups and veggie burgers. So I still havent decided what to do about kernels of corn. Sighhhh. I was tired, cranky, and hungry, so I gave in and just ate it.

So along with wedding weekends, football weekends might have to be cut some slack on the no corn thing as well.

Apparently corn is necessary to a healthy social life! I'm still working on some alternatives.


Thursday, September 3, 2009

Why Subway is a No Way for Non Corn Eaters

So I posted on my miserable drive back to Virginia and my cursed veggie wrap. I mentioned in that post about how I have a hard time finding foods to eat on my drives from Charlottesville to Chattanooga because of being a vegetarian, and now because of this whole no corn thing. Well, Subway has always been a safe choice, because I could get a Veggie Delight and not have to worry about meat in my sub. WELL (sorry I use well a lot) I was researching Subway on the way back from Charleston as I got a sub (pre no corn days) for my lunch, and discovered something very disturbing. Subway uses high fructose corn syrup in their wheat bread! DANGER! Read this article from this great blog, The Life Ledger, for more info on Subways breads.

So this time on my ride home, I had forgotten the sandwich I had made at my parents house (corn-free of course) and had to stop at the Way, and get a sub. I took this guys word and got the white bread, which is probably the first time I've had a sandwich on white bread in about 10 years. I really wanted to avoid Subway all together, because the HFCS in the wheat bread was VERY UPSETTING to me, plus I very much dislike their new ad campaign which talks about how healthy they are, and then pushes people to throw in chips and a drink (then pushes soda)...and then a cookie! I mean, come on people, you've positioned yourself as the healthy fast food alternative and you are still out there shoving more crap down people's throats. Ugh. Take note fast food is one of my pet peeves.

So this new info has left me packing my meals for road trips and swallowing Subways white bread when necessary.


Monday, August 31, 2009

Happy Monday!

The weather is perfect here, starting to feel like fall, which I guarantee isnt here yet. We will have another bought of summer. I'm still in mourning over the demise of my relationship so my week has not gotten off to a good start. But I thought I would send this out to you all because it is pretty funny:

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Wedding Weekends are Well...

So I left Thursday from Charlottesville for my home town of Chattanooga, TN where I'm in one of my best friends in the world's wedding. I packed my own lunch for the road trip, knowing that as a vegetarian, the places to stop to grab food on the way were not very vegetarian friendly (unless I wanted a wilted prepacked salad or french fries as a meal), and even my one vegetarian standby, the Subway Veggie Delight sub, was not non-corn eater friendly. A blog on that to come.

P.S. I need some new word to describe non-corner eaters. Non corn eater is just such a mouth full.

P.P.S. I also must include the fact that my boyfriend and I broke up right before I left for home (a trip he was supposed to go on with me, so that adds to my sadness) and Ive been very upset the past few days, and will try not to come off as too much of a wet rag in my blog.

Anyways, I went to Whole Foods the night before and got a veggie wrap for the ride. I stopped for lunch at the Tennessee Welcome Center. I wasn't hungry because any food I'd eaten since the breakup did not sit well, but I figured I should try to eat something. Something on the ride reaffirmed my feelings of sad and mopey-ness so by the time I got to the welcome center and sat cautiously in the "pet walk" area (because doggies were not allowed near the picnic tables), trying to avoid doggie poos, I really was a sad sack, a wet rag, basically just a mess. As I was opening my lunch, I wiped away my tears to break out in even more tears because there on my wrap, was a label that was not on the wrap at the bar at Whole Foods. I swear,one word on the label seriously just jumped out at me, but there it was, "Corn Starch". The corn gods were kicking me while I was down and it sucked. Big time.

Thankfully my lack of hunger paid off for the most part. Yes, I still ate a few bites of the offending wrap. But most of it went to my dog, so at least someone came out on top in this situation.

So that was the beginning of a hard battle with corn this weekend, that as I get ready to leave for this wedding, is not over.

I'm really, really trying hard to avoid corn and its derivatives, but I will not give up due to a fall off the wagon, and I realize too that to most people this is a crazy idea, and that its not worth compromising my manners in some situations. For example when, at the bridesmaid luncheon yesterday, Heather, the bride's, grandmother made her special strawberry cake (which looked like it was partly made from Duncan Hines strawberry mix...corn for sure) and a large piece was plopped down in front of me, how am I supposed to say no. I'm at a table with the 20 most important women in my best friend's life, and I'm going to say no to a piece of cake (HER SPECIAL RECIPE! THAT SHE MAKES FOR HER POST MAN! AND HER HAIR DRESSER! AND OUR SENATOR!) that her dear grammy has made for us? No.

I also had a hard time avoiding the special quiche my parents had waiting for me when I got home. Now, I've been a vegetarian for over 3 years now, and yet my parents are still completely clueless as to what to feed me. So they always make me a quiche, which I love -my dad makes the best quiche this side of France. However, this quiche had veggie bacon in it, which was something new they discovered in the past year, and they put in everything they make for me. The veggie bacon, is entirely processed and in no way natural (but I must say, pretty bacon like) and has about 50 corn derivatives in it. Okay, not THAT many, but enough that I stopped counting.

I also need to mention, that I have failed to tell my parents about this little experiment of mine. I know they freak out enough about me not eating meat and how to feed me, I didn't want to add corn to the list of no-nos. But as I walked in the house, tired and defeated, and they are beaming at the wonderful quiche my dad has made (one of his best ever - swiss, spinach and mushrooms with veggie bacon), I couldn't say no. However, I did try to pick it out and give most of it to my dog. She comes out on top again.

So these were the biggest falls off the wagon, and I'm trying my best to avoid corn. I truly am. But I'm in the South, I'm with family and friends who are trying to shove food down my throat because in the words of my friend Lesley, a "Skinny Minnie", I'm emotionally exhausted and too tired to argue, and of course its a wedding, and that always means lots of food.

But honestly, the thing most abhorring to my friends about this no corn experiment? My inability to drink Jack Daniels. I might as well just become a Yankee.


Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Support American Farmers with Your Own Artwork!

The other day I got an email from a member of the Farm Aid team, saying nice things about my blog, which was a great way to butter me up for plugging their photo contest, Farm Fresh Pics. I would have said yes without the buttering up, because its a great cause. Farm Aid is, for those of you who have been hiding under the food charities rock, a charity that throws a concert every year featuring big names (Willie Nelson and John Mellencamp are the kings of Farm Aid) to support American small farmers. A good cause, because they fight big corporate farms that get farmers stuck in a cycle, using their seeds and growing their crops. A lot of the crops being corn. Big. Corporate. Corn. So you go, Farm Aid!

So now for the contest. Farm Aid is having a photo contest, where you can enter your own photo supporting American farmers with the awesome grand prize of two VIP passes and front row tickets to the show in October. Oh yea, and they'll pay your expenses. Thats pretty sweeeet!
So sweet that I entered my own photo, which if you recognize its awesomeness, you can vote for. FYI voting is $1 a vote donated to Farm Aid, so its a good cause!
If you want to enter a photo, you need to do so by the end of next week, September 6th. So go to your farmers market or u pick farm this weekend, or even your own backyard and snap away!


Friday, August 21, 2009

What Does a Sugar Shortage Mean for a Corn-Free Diet?

I was watching Colbert Report last night and Mr.Colbert had one of my favorite people on, Marion Nestle (watch the video here). Marion Nestle is this food guru and I highly recommend her book What to Eat. It will make you see grocery shopping in a whole new way. Anyways, Nestle was a guest to discuss this week's sugar crisis. Whaaaaaat? What sugar crisis? Is it true that I'm really getting my news from parody news shows because this was the first I'd heard of this! Colbert put it well when he said, "Oh my God, there’s a sugar shortage. How could this happen? Well, like interstate highways and potable water, it’s the government’s fault".

Well, APPARENTLY, this week was the beginning of a smidge of a sugar shortage, due to Cuba wanting more money for its sugar. Which I mean, seems to make sense to me, since we have been buying it from them for the same price since the 1940s. I can understand how that little increase in price can throw American food manufacturers (and consumers) for a loop. The American Sugar Refining Co., the country's biggest sugar cane refiner, actually has feared that all of its plants would run out of raw sugar in the next two weeks. Nestle said in the interview that "It's a manufactured crisis because the food companies want to have cheap sugar from other countries". That's all well and good, but it still doesn't bode well for those of us who eat the food put out from food companies. And those of us trying to give up corn sweeteners.

This means sugar prices are going up, which probably means at some point, foods with sugar in it will go up in price. Foods with HFCS and other corn sweeteners will gain in popularity. I will be broke and having a harder time finding food to eat. It's apparently time for me to take matters into my own hands.

"Dear Cuba,
I honestly don't know much about you. Not because I don't want to, it's mainly because you won't let me visit. I know you make a mean cigar, and you have a body of water named after pigs. Oh and we get lots of sugar from you. So please let us buy your sugar so I don't go crazy. Thanks! -Jessica"

Thing that will solve the problem? I hope so.


Thursday, August 20, 2009

And the Media Circus Begins!

Not really. But I did make the local CBS 19 news for my corn celibacy. New phrase...I like it, what do you think? If you must watch the video, you can check out the video here. You can read the little article they wrote about it here.

It was fun to tape, although my trashcan did not want to participate in being slammed closed. We had to tape that a few times. I must confess though, I have still yet to watch it. Im one of those people that hate to watch myself on tv and definitely when I feel like I sound like a loon. I didn't even really mention it to people. I'm not ashamed of my experiment, but I get more "crazy lady" feedback than anything else. I also then have to go into a tirade about why I would do such a thing. I should just print up cards with my name and the blog and hand them out so I can save some breath.

I was Body Pumping at the gym today with my friend Lauren and she mentioned that people had been commenting about the video on Facebook. Super. I didn't read the comments, but I imagine its something along the lines of "That girl needs to get a hobby...", etc.

Here's some irony for you though. Stephanie Satchell, interviewer extraordinaire, asked me what I can't eat and my first response was "No Mexican food!". Then after the interview, my boyfriend and I decide to go to lunch. And where does he suggest? Aqui es Mexico - the best little Mexican restaurant in Cville.

I'd never been to Aqui and I'd been wanting to, so I said yes, and was ready for a challenge. Dining there was surprisingly non-corn eater friendly. I avoided the corn chips and salsa, which was hard, real hard. I then spoke to the sweet little ole' lady owner (she's not that old, but its weird to say "sweet little middle-age lady") and asked her about their flour tortillas. Were they made in house? Yes. Did they have cornstarch, baking powder, anything like that in it? I was reassured with a big headshake and a "no, no, no, no, no". You can't get more reassuring than that can you?

So I went with a stellar quesadilla that had spinach, cheese, jicama (I LOVE jicama!) and various other veggies in it. And felt ecstatic to be eating Mexican!

The first week has been a little too easy. But of course now the Chinese cravings have begun. And damnit, I'm pretty sure like all Chinese foods sauces have corn in them. A year without Chinese food!? Noooooo.


Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Oprah Giving Back to School Lunch Tips

I'm sitting in front of the tube, watching Oprah and Dr. Oz, talking with overweight kids and the author of Eat This, Not That, David Zinczenko, about school lunches. Now I'm glued to the tv. Although I'm not crazy about Oprah's new audience voting system, I must say I love, LOVE Oprah. She's a class act in my opinion, and though sometime she still delves into trash tv topics, most of her topics are relevant and aim to help her viewers live a better life. The other thing I love is nutrition, and childhood obesity and school nutrition are really important causes to me.

And I have to say, that many of the things they are saying on the show, are validating my reasons for going corn-free. One stat the David Zinczenko mentioned is that kids (that's just kids, not diet coke addicted adults) eat an average of 450 extra calories a day in liquid form - that's from sodas, fruit juices, and milkshakes. If you're getting cheap fruit juices, that aren't 100% fruit juice (like Sunny D which has high fructose corn syrup in it!), and you're drinking corn. Sodas - corn. Milkshakes - corn. So there you go, cut that corn, cut some calories, lose some pounds.

They also packed some sample school lunches, and they contained minimally processed foods, which is what you eat when you're not eating corn derivatives. And honestly it will save you time and headaches to eat minimally processed foods because trying to figure out what some of those crazy ingredients are gives me headaches. I need to memorize all those weird chemical things, because my grocery trips are much longer when I have to stand there on my iPhone and research every chemical. If you ARE drawn to the more processed foods (I'll turn my head the other way), you should watch this video to get Dr.Oz's lesson on how to read a food label. But I'll let you know, if you go for those processed foods, that anything with corn in the ingredient name, is probably an artificial sweetener, and bringing on the extra calories.

The parents in Oprah's audience expressed trouble over the expense of minimally processed foods (a quandary that I'll never get) and its true, avoiding foods with artificial sweeteners and less processing can be more expensive (thus why high fructose corn syrup became a popular substitute for sugar - its cheap). Ways to fight the high costs - Dr Oz just said eat local! Yay! That its better for us, and many times cheaper.

I'm glad that Oprah and Dr. Oz are on to this. Because honestly, they are some of the most trusted voices in the American media. People WILL listen to them. And hopefully, they'll stop eating less artificial (and corn) sweeteners. And America will stop gaining weight!


Monday, August 17, 2009

Buh-bye Now

See all this? These are the corn culprits that have been occupying my fridge, freezer and pantry. Amazing that most of these things aren't solid foods, no?

Corn in Pop Culture

When you become hyper-sensitive to corn in your diet, you become hyper-sensitive to corn well, everywhere. I mean it's not like I see corn everywhere I look - at least not yet, and I'm not haunted by corn in my sleep. I'm just noticing it more and more.

Corn has even made its way into pop culture - and not just as the standby snack in the movie theaters. When starting this project, I pulled from the recesses of my mind a character on of those train wreck VH1 dating shows. I couldn't quite remember what show it was, but I definitely remembered the chick. Her name was Corn Fed. Sounds like the beginning of a bad old love song, no? Well she got her name, if I remember correctly, because she's from the Midwest, and like a good Midwestern girl, she had a little meat on her bones (and I mean a little - she's on a reality show, and its not Biggest Loser, so she's still small) because she was raised on corn.

While this is I guess, supposed to be a compliment to her, its an interesting thing to get complimented on - how good your corn fed body looks. Everyone is "corn fed", perhaps Corn Fed herself actually just eats more real corn than those Americans who live farther away from the fields. Perhaps they should have labeled an obese American, or an lower income American, as corn fed. They're the ones that are more than likely consuming the large amounts of high fructose corn syrup and other corn derivatives in many of the things they eat, because these corn foods are cheaper than real sugars and other preservatives.

Just a thought VH1, but maybe you should give the corn fed label to someone who really deserves it.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Days 1 & 2 - Piece of C....Cookie?

Wednesday I started my corn-free journey and although it got off to a somewhat rough start, it's been feeling a bit easy-breezy since then. I started Wednesday morning with a sinus headache and an empty fridge. All I wanted to do was go back to bed but my stomach and unfortunately, my work load said "NO!". So I poured myself a glass of corn-free tangerine juice (it was the only thing in my fridge that didnt need to be questioned...and I was too tired to start investigating my fridge), and schlepped my way to Whole Foods, thinking this would be one of the easiest grocery stores to find products free of HFCS and other corn derivatives.

Well, it doesnt bode well when you walk in and all the free samples at Whole Foods that day seem to be corn. Corn chips, corn cheese puffs, housemade tortilla chips and salsa. I grabbed for them a couple of times before thinking "whoa now!". I was definitely being tested...and kind of slapped in the face and laughed at by someone upstairs.

I knew the easiest things to eat would be fruit and veggies so I hit up the salad bar and then the salad dressing aisle. Salad bar - easy, although I almost grabbed some good looking corn kernels on the salad bar. Salad dressing aisle - sucky. REAL sucky. I went for the oil based dressings, thinking why do you need xantham gum in an oil dressing? I don't know why, but apparently you do. Apparently ALL SALAD DRESSINGS need xantham gum! Everything I picked up, organic or otherwise, had the gum. Okay, I thought to myself I'll just make some dressing at home.

There was one major victory with salad dressings at Whole Foods that morning. I went back to the prepared foods section and salad bar, and noticed that Whole Foods now sells salad dressings they make in house. AND that they have a buttermilk ranch - and its corn free! It's got an easy to read list of ingredients, like, you actually know what they are without having to google them. Well, it did have the main ingredient as mayonnaise. I do not particularly like mayo. And I wasnt sure if there was corn in it (I'm suspicious of all foods now). But I walked back over to the salad dressing condiment aisle (I was getting my exercise walking corner to corner in WF), and looked at the Whole Foods brand mayo (assuming that is what they would use in their house-made dressing) to see what it was made of. Happily, no corn! Jackpot!
Now I havent mentioned it yet, but I love ranch dressing. I love condiments in general (blog to come) but I LOVE ranch. It's probably my favorite condiment, and blame it on the southern girl in me, but I think it makes just about any food taste better. Maybe that has turned a lot, urmmm, many, of you off from reading this, but trust me, I like plenty of sophisticated foods as well.

Anywho, I had really doubted that I would ever find a corn-free ranch. I was ready to start experimenting with making it at home. I was excited about the challenge. But I was even more excited to find a corn-free ranch on my first day! Booyah! This was going to be an easy experiment.

Too bad the ranch tastes kinda crappy.

So that was my only challenge of day one. I ate a salad for lunch, and had pasta (I read the label - no corn) with homemade sauce for dinner.

Day 2, I must confess, broke me a bit. I started my morning by stopping by one of my favorite places, Cappellino's Crazy Cakes - yes a cupcake shop, to visit one of my favorite people, Dotty. Dottie and I go back since the beginning of Crazy Cakes, which is not that long, but we're tight. She loves, loves my bulldog, Mona (but ummm, who doesn't?), and I love her cupcakes and cookies. Perfect!

I have, however, been struggling with corn versus cupcakes. Cupcakes have corn starch in their baking powder (I think cupcakes have baking powder...need to double check that), but I love them. A lot. A ton. Whatever. So how do I tell Dotty and her cupcakes no?

Well Dottie and I started talking shop and then Dotty tells me I MUST try their 3 new cookie flavors. I gave a nervous smile, tried to change the subject, but got dragged into the shop and forced, FORCED to eat a bite of a chocolate caramel cookie. Caramel - made of corn. Cookies - have baking powder. Crap. So I did swallow a bite because I can't say no to Dotty. And it was a chocolate caramel cookie.

The rest of my meals these first two days went very well. Salads and minimally processed grains. A dark chocolate chocolate bar (I have a sweet tooth and I gotta get it from somewhere) has been satisfying my need for sweets.

Soooo besides eating corn products to be nice and to not look like a complete loony to others, I think I can do this. Im not going to give up after one little slip up! This isn't a pass or fail test, its an experiment and test of my personal strength.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

One Last Hurrah

So I've been M.I.A. for the past few days, which probably isn't the best practice when you're just starting a blog, but I had to get away for a few days with my beloved corn. Yes, beloved. See I've been sitting on this experiment for about a week now, and as I've said before, there's many a food today that has the good ole kernel in it. And the more I think about, the more research I do, the more I realize that corn and its assorted parts are all over the freakin' place. So I ran away with corn for a "hominy-moon", if you will (and we will) to Charleston, South Carolina where I ate corn in its many various reincarnations. I ate cornbread, I ate BBQ sauce that I'm sure had some high fructose corn syrup in it, I ate fresh corn, and I even had a brunch that consisted entirely of corn in the forms of peach corn cakes with a side of grits.

If corn and I were going down, we were going down in flames, baby.

See that cornbread in the basket? When that cornbread was brought up to our table and served to Adam and I, it was like being presented with someone's beautiful new baby in a bassinet. I just wanted to ooh and ahh at it, tickle it under its chin, tell it I loved it. Okay, its weird, I know, but cornbread is good. Reallll good. And though I don't get cornbread as good as THAT, really, ever, outside of Charleston (based on personal experience - no offense to cornbread masters out there), I won't be eating cornbread of any variety for the next year, so that cornbread looked insanely perfect.

Anywho, I'll try to keep the cracked out corn comments to a minimum. But its day 1 (as of an hour or so ago) so I must warn you, there are probably lots (Scratch that "many" more to come).

So yes, I had a last tango in Charleston with El Corno. And it was good. Grand, in fact. But it was along I-95 in the few 3G areas between Charleston and Charlottesville, that I learned the terrible news about some things that almost seem like necessities in my day to day. Namely, gum. Yes, no more gum for me for the next year. Shiotttt. It looks like I might be brushing my teeth more than usual for a while. Which is fine, I mean brushing is better than chewing, even if it is sugar-free. And my jaw can use the rest.

Yes, for the next however long this lasts (umm, the year goal is getting thrown out there a little less often), I will be the cool girl carrying around awesome individual toothpaste packets likes these gems. Thank goodness, I can get a case of 1000 of them for a mere $150.

Now, hopefully toothpaste is corn-free.

More deceivingly corn filled foods to come in the next few days. Too tired tonight. Must get lots of sleep (I actually started to write corn instead of sleep...I'm already losing it!) to battle the evils of chemical corn derivatives tomorrow.


Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Some good news...and some bad news

I've started to research what foods I regularly eat that might be future no-nos.

The Good News:
My favorite veggie burgers, Amys California Burgers, are corn-free. Yay! However,
Bulls Eye BBQ sauce is high-fructose corn syrup free (big label and all!) Yay!

The Bad News:
No more Morningstar Veggie Bacon. Sad, sad day. Also, no Morning Star Black Bean Burgers, and probably no more Morning Star anything...I mean they are owned by Kellogs, one of the original cereal (and therefore, corn) gangstas.

The verdict is still out on my other vegetarian faux meats. The name "Quorn", however, doesn't sound too promising in my pursuit of corn-free meat substitutes.


Second Thoughts???

So my boyfriend seems to think I'm biting off more than I can chew. And the more I let my new experiment sink into my head, the more scared I get. Because yes, I'd already thought of high fructose corn syrup and a lot of what that means (at least what I think what that means). Damn, I typed "a lot" again. I don't even realize! Maybe I should try to give up "a lot" before I give up corn.

My bf, being the nice guy that he is, pointed out that there's all these corn derivatives out there, like xanthum gum. Crap. Hmmph. This from the guy who is in the middle of a cleanse right now. I think someone is just hungry and trying to bring me down.
So not only do I have to look for the word "corn" on labels but now I have to get a chemistry degree to figure out what chemicals have corn in it! Do artificial colors have corn in it? Not that I feel like I eat a lot, errrm, many artificially colored foods, but I'm sure there are some that sneak into there.
This experiment is already reminding me of one of my very favorite movies, Mean Girls, specifically the scene where Regina George (Rachel McAdams) is at the lunch table asking Katy Heron (Lindsay Lohan) what foods have carbs in it. I'm going to be the girl sitting there asking Adam, and anyone else who will listen to me (or just pretend to, as I think the case with him may sometimes be) if this has corn in it or not. Maybe I'll lose weight. "I only want to lose 3 pounds" (Mean Girls quote....if you havent seen Mean Girls its a must. Soooo much like Food, Inc). Maybe I'll shed those last few corn pounds. Maybe I'll discover the cause of American obesity!
Actually I think some people have already cited high fructose corn syrup as one of the causes. Maybe I'll start a new diet plan! I'm energized! I haven't begun yet! I just had coffee!
Sounds like its going to be a fun year!!!!
Fudge nugs, this is going to be hard.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Flash of Genius

BLOG WARNINGS: 1) I write side thoughts in parentheses...A LOT.
2) I will try from now on to refrain from using "a lot". High school English teacher and all around bad ass, Jessica Good, used to say "a lot is place you park your car, not a unit of measure", which has since then left me trying to figure out what the heck you say instead.
3) To Mrs. Good, I'm sorry for all the grammatical errors. I've already realized that I really don't remember if movies get italicized or put in quotes. So please overlook this, and other English errors in this blog. I really did learn alot, scratch that, a ton?, ummm, multitudes of important English facts? in the 3 years I had you as a teacher. Oh yes, I'm not very liberal with my spaces around my commas.
4) Everytime I write Food, Inc you must drink.

Okay, so maybe the title, "Flash of Genius" is a little bit of an exaggeration (considering I had to look up "genius" just to make sure I was spelling it correctly, and yes, I had it right), but I just saw Food, Inc and Bam! (Emeril style) got hit with the flash within the first 3o minutes of the movie.

Before I continue, a little background on me. My name is Jessica...let's get more personal, Jess. I'm 25. I'm a graduate of the University of Virginia, and I still live in Charlottesville, Virginia (they don't call it "The Hook" for nothing, ya know?). I'm a vegetarian (3 years strong). I'm the co-founder of Locallectual ( ...had to get a plug in here somewhere), a web directory to find locally and domestically made products, producers, and foods in your area, restaurants using local ingredients in your area, and local retailers selling all this good stuff. So obviously, I'm into movies like Food, Inc because I care about where my food comes from (reason #1 for being a vegetarian) and I'm into supporting local food systems and not big monsters like Conagra and its cohorts.

So to continue, obviously I would go to Food, Inc and obviously, I'd be very moved. But I wasn't quite expecting to be moved like this. Yes, to be perfectly honest, I expected to walk out giving myself a little pat on the back for conceiving (had to look that word up...damn you, "i" before "e" except after "c") Locallectual, and I did (thanks for the little "eat local foods, shop your local farmers market" shout out at the end, Food, Inc producers). But I wasn't expecting to want to jump out of my seat and leave within the first 30 minutes because I wanted to get my blog on and start the next chapter in my life.

I know, you want to know what chapter don't you. Get ready. I'm going corn free for a year. Maybe this isn't that revolutionary. Maybe there were people doing this before "Food, Inc". Maybe other people out there saw Food, Inc before me and are already doing this. So maybe I'm not the trend setter I think I am, but at this point in time, I am, damnit.
When I started reading The Omnivore's Dilemma, like, 6 months ago (I know, Mrs.Good, I still say "like" ALOT ... BAM!), and Mr.Pollan starting talking about how corn is in virtually everything the average American eats, I got scared. Real scared. Corn is a monster! Or rather, the people in charge of what American farmers grow and what basically, the world eats, are monsters! I didn't want to be told (or not) what to eat, and not that I think corn is all that terrible for you (at least not yet anyways), but I certainly don't want it snuck into my every bite. But my business partner Karen, who is my nutritional advisor, told me not to worry about corn, its not bad. So I ignored it. But the movie brought up the monsterous corn AGAIN. It revived my fears of that those little yellow kernels. So I've decided to say, in the immortal words of Empire Records to "Damn the man!" and try to eat corn free for a year.

Now, to be honest, I think this task will be a smidge easier for me than for the average American. Yes, I consider myself to be "above average". First off, I'm a vegetarian, so I'm not eating meat that has all that corn feed stuffed in it. So I'm halfway there, right? Famous. Last. Words. As Food, Inc continued with its segment on corn, and the movie made its point that it was seriously, in, like, everything, I kinda had an "oh shit" moment. Yes, as you can see, I'm continuing on with this, what you might consider, craziness, even after I started to think about all the food that has corn in it, via corn syrup. Yes, corn syrup, I forgot about you! So I will I'm sure, DAILY, be adding new foods that are tainted with this sweetner to my sad list of "Don't Eats". And you can start taking bets on how long my little experiment will last.

So yes, I'm crazy, because corn syrup has made corn one of the, if not THE, biggest sweetener in the American diet. But it's worth a try, and will definitely be providing some humorous posts for friends and other readers out there. And probably one peeved high school English teacher.