Tuesday, August 16, 2016

The Secret Life of Corn

     Corn is a pretty subtle thing. We know it's around, but don't ever really think about it (unless you live in Nebraska, of course). Corn is technically a grain, so we technically try to squeeze it into our diets every now and then. Whether you're getting your recommended amount of corn or not - you're never far away from it. Corn is used by people everyday and we don't even realize it. Now there is chemistry involved, so don't think about an ear of corn in every day products too literally, but nevertheless, it's still corn. Here's a list of things were you can find corn.
      Corn chips. Duh. We love chips. Maybe a bit too much. I mean, who doesn't love chips? When we think of chips, we think of potatoes, but if you weren't aware: Doritos, Fritos, Cheetos, and Tostitos are corn based. The corn is processed, typically ground up and turned into a paste or dough, where it is then molded, cooked, and flavored into what you see in the bag (once you get past all the air hogging most of the bag).
       Gas. Many cars today used E85, which is essentially gas that is 85 percent ethanol and 15 percent gasoline. While sugar cane can be used to make ethanol, American ethanol is dominated by corn (we have to let Nebraska shine).
       Tires. Yes, you could be driving around on corn. Engineers have been able to turn that ear of corn into polymers, which can substitute for the rubber used for binding. The crazy thing about this? Corn-based tires are more fuel efficient, stronger, and cheaper. What's even more crazy about this? This is nothing new.
      Hand soap. We all use it - at least I hope we do. Yet, did you know that soap that you pump into your hand can contain up to 25 percent corn product?
    Windex. Look on the back lable. On it you'll find 2-hexoxyethanol, acetic acid, fragrances, and ethanolamine. All of these foreign sounding chemicals are derived from corn.
     Toothpaste. Obviously toothpaste doesn't taste like corn; who would buy that? We all know about fluoride, but what about sorbitol? Sorbitol provides sweetness and is typically derived artificially from corn syrup.
     Plastic. To the average person, plastic is more precious than gold and diamonds. There are dozens of types of plastics, which include "bioplastic" - plastics made from renewable sources. This includes cornstarch. Polyactic acid is a plastic that is made from corn.
     Vegetables. Face it, we're picky. Even if it hasn't passed the expiration date, we're not going to eat it if it doesn't look good. Why else would we put red dye in our salmon? Same goes for vegetables. Many vegetables are treated with zein, a protein of corn, to help the vegetables keep their fresh appearance.
     Cosmetics, makeup, and perfume. Everyone freaks out about all the things that makeup may or may not contain, but did you know one of those is corn? If you see "zea mays" on the back of your Sephora box or Pantene bottle, now you know.
   Matches. A product that makes full use of cornstarch. Corn products are used during manufacturing of the matches and also helps keep the matchsticks rigid.
     Milk. Since many dairy cows are now fed corn, which is not what they naturally eat, their bodies must adapt. The vitamin A and D in milk use corn oil as a carrier.
     Glue and adhesives. Thank that lovely cornstarch. From glue to the sticky stuff on envelopes, corn plays a role. PS, stop licking your envelopes.
     Diapers. Corn-based polymers can be found in modern diapers to help keep your baby's stinkies at bay.
     Crayons. Dextrin, derived from cornstarch, is used in the manufacturing process. Other corn products are used to help keep your kid's crayons from crumbling, which in turn keeps them from crying, which in turn keeps you sane. See, corn has psychological effects too.
     Drywall. Cornstarch is used in the making of drywall, helping to prevent that loser called mold.
     Aspirin. Cellulose acetate phthalate. That's the coating on pills that make them easier to swallow and help them survive the horror of your stomach acid.
     Spark plugs. The heat resistant porcelain in your spark plugs use corn-based product to help protect the spark plugs from excessive heat.
     Anything with high fructose corn syrup (aka half of the supermarket). Yogurt, cereal, salad dressing, fruit juice, cocktails, soda, mac and cheese, bread, and until now: McNuggets. While high fructose corn syrup seems nearly impossible to avoid today, it's possible.
       Gum. There's a blog dedicated to corn-free chewing gum, so...
     Splenda. You can run from the corn syrup, but you can't run from the corn. Splenda contains maltodextrin, which while typically derived of wheat in Europe, in the US it is derived of corn.
      Corndogs. That is all.

*io9, Wikipedia, USA Today, Celestial Healing, Live Corn Free

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