Food, Food Everywhere, and Not A Bite To Eat

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I hate corn.

If every corn field in the world were to spontaneously go up in flames, I would abandon my TED and go out on a drinking and partying binge that would put my ’20’s to shame.

I’ve written about corn before, but y’all, I don’t think even *I* fully realized how BAD the Corn Situation in America really is until this weekend.

Last weekend we trialed Zac on broccoli, and we had a quick reaction. Two servings of broccoli and on the third day, several diapers filled with blood and a blistering diaper rash.

Someone asked me whether I was sure if the reaction was to the broccoli, or to corn.

Huh?

After investigating my potatos so intently, I’d decided we’d probably  be okay with organic produce at my health food co-op.

After that question was asked, however, I had to stop and think. Hard.

Broccoli is one of the least FPIES reactive foods. It was organic broccoli that I washed really well. Come to think of it, it really COULD have been the corn in the fertilizing, spraying, transporting, or storing of the broccoli that caused that reaction. A reaction that, by the way, was typical of Zac’s corn reactions: instant blistering diaper rash and visible bright red blood in the diaper.

Sigh. Okay. Zac bounced back within three days of his first reaction diaper and was just fine. So, time to start seeking out his next food trial! From here on, I told myself, I just have to be EXTRA CAREFUL to avoid anything “corny”.

It was at that moment, beginning THAT research, the I realized: WE’RE SCREWED. 

No. Seriously.

I have run through my list of potential food trials, and every single one of them has been shot down by the corn-free people as having a high likelihood of being corned.

First it was bananas. I’d LOVE to give Zac bananas!

They’re sprayed with ethylene gas to ripen, and the corn-free folks informed me that VERY few of them can tolerate bananas at all.

Okay, nix the bananas.

I’ve got it! Avocado!

Yeah, the corn-free people tell me they’re ALSO sprayed with ethylene gas to ripen, same story as bananas. Very few can tolerate them.

Oh, and, while they were at it, they added that almost all tropical fruits are treated the same way.

Okay, nix the avocado (and any tropical fruits).

Oh! how about spinach!

The corn-free people told me I’d need to grow it myself or know the farmer. Otherwise, it is highly likely it has been corntaminated at some point in the growing/packaging/shipping process.

Okay, well, here in the northern hemisphere, we’re sort of at the tail end of any sort of growing season. I can’t grow it myself, and I had doubts I’d be able to find any farmers who have any for sale, either – especially when I limit it to farmers who don’t spray or treat their crops with anything that could be corny.

So I asked the corn-free folks about frozen veggies. Surely there was at least ONE brand of frozen spinach out there that would be safe, right?

Not that any of them know of. At least some of then have reacted to every brand of frozen veggies out there.

I saw some frozen organic spinach at the co-op and I bought it anyway. When I asked about the safety of that brand on the boards, no one answered yay or nay.

That’s good! Maybe I found a little known brand that might be safe! So all I needed to do was call their manufacturer and ask some questions.

One problem: I didn’t know what questions to ask.

Back to the corn boards! I posted, “OK, let’s try this from another angle. Does anyone know the manufacturing process for frozen organic spinach? I need to call the manufacturer of a brand of spinach we want to try, and it would be helpful to know what questions to ask about corntamination. Thanks!”

One lady sent me this list response: “Here’s what you’d want to know:
1) Were fertilizers used and if so, what type?
2) Were pesticides used and if so, what type?
3) What is used to transport the spinach to the facility and is it shared with any other crop harvested (i.e. corn)?
4) Is the facility in which it’s processed used only for spinach? If not, what is used to clean the lines between types of food processing?
5) What is the spinach rinsed with to clean it?
6) Is the spinach treated with anything to keep it fresh/green/etc.?
7) What is the spinach cooked in/with?
8) What is the packaging made of?
9) What is the adhesive on the packaging made of?”

For cryin’ out loud! Y’all, I’ll have to do this for EVERY SINGLE FOOD we try Zac on!!

Now, while I was waiting on answers from the corn boards about spinach, Darrel and I had a brainstorm: my parents are now raising chickens, and if we could find a safe chicken feed for them (they free-range, but pickin’s are kinda slim for the chickens because it is winter, so they supplement) we could trial eggs for Zac!

So I asked on the corn boards about safe chicken feed. Lots of the corn free people, for obvious reasons, make, grow or raise their entire food supply from scratch, so I got lots of answers.

One answer was to make it ourselves. There were several recipes given, but most of those contained oats – which Zac has already reacted to. The others were very complicated, and while my parents are supportive, they’d rather not have to do such intensive prep work for their chicken feed.

Another was a brand of chicken feed that is corn and soy free…maybe.  Some people did great on it, but a handful said they still reacted to the eggs they ate from chickens that ate that feed. I noticed the company said it was produced on the same lines as their non-corn-free feed, so maybe those folks were reacting to cross-contamination.

In any case, it seems to be the best out there for corn-free chicken feed, and the price for 25 pounds of feed is $18.60. Shipping per bag is $18, and there are no feed stores within 100 miles that carry that feed, so we have to ship.

That means that for the 50 pounds dad needs a month in chicken feed, Darrel and I would have to spend $73.20.

It will take at least  3 weeks of the hens eating the new food before I’d even be willing to try their eggs on Zac, and then, once he eats them, if he doesn’t have a quick reaction it could be another four weeks before we know whether they are safe.

So to trial eggs will cost Darrel and me $146.40. Just to TRIAL!

That would be an expensive un-safe food!!

And did I mention that currently dad is feeding his chickens 50 lbs of food per month for only $11?

Going corn-free is expensive, y’all.

Finally I went to the corn boards (I’m on two of them now) and asked a different question: what is the least corny food or ingredient you can think of that I could trial my son on?

They came back with answers that almost all fit on either the “FPIES most triggered foods” list or the “avoid if you have fructose malabsorption” list. Coconut (FM), sweet potato (FPIES), a brand of oats (FPIES), and squashes (FPIES) were all common answers.

Sigh. Can’t or don’t want to use any of those, so, what? There aren’t ANY foods that are safe for Zac to trial now??

Just when I was about to lose all hope and re-trial lamb just because we have it in the freezer and we have nothing else we can trial him on, I gave one last, great Google search for spinach farmers in my area…and freaking HIT THE JACKPOT!!!

Turns out, there’s a farm near our house that grows all kinds of goodies year round, and they ALSO provide their yummies to my health food co-op for sale. I spoke with the man at length and their green leafy stuff is grown in a greenhouse right now, with NO pesticides and safe fertilizers.

Yay! Mommy found me a new food to try!

Yay! Mommy found me a new food to try!

Hallelujah!!

Their spinach won’t be available until closer to Christmas, but they are currently harvesting Swiss Chard and Kale and delivering it every Tuesday to my co-op for sale.

It’s not my first choice (or even my third, fourth or fifth choice), but IT’S A FOOD WE CAN TRIAL THAT IS SAFE!!! (Well, corn-free safe, not FPIES safe, necessarily.)

I just can’t believe the hoops I’m having to jump through to find foods to even trial on this child, though! There is no guarantee he can actually tolerate Swiss Chard, Kale or Spinach…this is just to find something safe enough to TRY.

It’s insane, I tell you!

So yesterday Darrel came home with two grocery sacks filled with Swiss Chard. I broke the leaves off the stalks, steamed the stalks, and served them up to Zac.

Trying to figure out how to eat Swiss Chard stems!

Trying to figure out how to eat Swiss Chard stems!

He ate about 6 stalks! They don’t have the allure of broccoli or quinoa, apparently, because he wasn’t just scarfing it down, but he did eat them!

While he was eating, I steamed the leaves, chopped them into small pieces, and mixed them with the quinoa puree for some quinoa/swiss chard nuggets.

Quinoa/Swiss Chard Nuggets. They almost look like they have chocolate in them, right?

Quinoa/Swiss Chard Nuggets. They almost look like they have chocolate in them, right?

Now, THOSE he LOVED! Even after eating 8 quinoa nuggets and 6 swiss chard stalks for dinner, he chomped down on 8 more of the quinoa/chard nuggets!

Sleepy eyes...ready for bed...but Mommy I HAVE to eat some more of these!

Sleepy eyes…ready for bed…but Mommy I HAVE to eat some more of these!

So from here on it’s a waiting game to see if he reacts. Fingers crossed nothing bad happens, and in 14 days we can pull swiss chard from his diet and give him a 3 day break. Then we can give it to him for 7 more days and officially claim his second Safe Food!!

If he passes Swiss Chard?

I’m buying every damn leaf my health food co-op has or will ever get. No WAY I’m letting any of that life-sustaining goodness slip through my fingers!

This corntamination thing is for the birds!!

In the end, we DID find a bite to eat for Zac…but it was a major ordeal to get here, and once we’ve worked our way through kale and spinach I have NO idea what we will be able to find to trial next.

Corn is evil. That is all. (screech)

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Oh, and a quick update on quinoa: it’s doing GREAT! Zac gained a whole POUND last week! He now weighs 22 pounds! Happy dance!!

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How hard is it for you to find safe, organic, corn-free foods for your kiddos? Any suggestions for us?

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5 Responses to Food, Food Everywhere, and Not A Bite To Eat

  1. You are a fierce mama! I hate corn too! It’s the worst most evil food that has ever happened!

    Best of luck!

  2. Kristy says:

    Hang in there! My son survived on 3 foods for a year and a half when we got him baseline. He’s now got around 50, 3 years later.

    • Carrie says:

      Thanks, Kristy! I needed that encouragement. Swiss chard isn’t looking good right now, so today’s been a discouraging day for us. :-/

      I hope one day I can look back on this like a bad dream. 🙂 Three foods would be cause for major celebration in our house right now!

  3. Pingback: Hot Cocoa! (No Dairy or Fructose) - Cradle Rocking Mama

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