The Incredible, In-edible CORN

photo courtesy of anankkmi at http://www.freedigitalphotos.net

photo courtesy of anankkmi at http://www.freedigitalphotos.net

FAAW is nearing its completion.

I have seen some beautiful, amazing testimonies to the effects of food allergies on families, and learned some new food allergy facts and trivia (yes, no matter how far in the food allergy rabbit hole you’ve fallen, you still learn new things all the time!).

We’ve seen things about IgE (aka anaphylactic) allergies, non-IgE mediated allergies (aka FPIES) and even food intolerances that are not technically allergies, but still cause huge problems for the intolerant.

We’ve seen the “Top 8” plastered all over the internet to raise awareness of the most likely foods to trigger an allergic reaction. We’re all well versed in the dangers of dairy, soy, wheat, peanut, tree nuts, eggs, fish and shellfish by now.

But there’s something still missing. Something I haven’t heard a lot about.

So I’d like to take a moment to ask everyone to stop what you’re doing and look around you. Wherever you are, be it at home, at work, at a mall, or in your car at a red light (put down the phone already!) I want you to look at your surroundings.

Look hard.

I’ll bet you a trillion dollars (I would bet a million, but inflation, you know) that you are absolutely surrounded by a food that is a huge allergy for a growing number of people.

This food is a veritable spy; it is everywhere and in everything, but no one sees it.

It is almost impossible to convince people that this food can cause an allergic reaction. Even doctors will argue about it.

This food is ubiquitous. You cannot escape this food.

This food has some very powerful people in its corner. They lobby for it, nurture it, and turn a profit on it as a full time job.

What is this food?

CORN.

photo courtesy of kongsky at http://www.freedigitalphotos.net

photo courtesy of kongsky at http://www.freedigitalphotos.net

Oh, yes, I said corn.

Corn is a very sweet, tasty vegetable, but for many it can trigger hives, itching, welts and even full-blown anaphylaxis, and for many others it can cause migraines, stomach discomfort, vomiting, and myriad other symptoms.

I’m going to step right out and say it: to a corn-allergic or corn-intolerant person, corn is evil.

The traditional treatment for any allergy or intolerance is strict avoidance. Avoid the trigger, avoid the reaction – simple, right?

Easy enough for the Top 8; they are clearly labeled on nearly everything, and through years of awareness campaigns like FAAW people are growing more and more aware – read, accommodating – of Top 8 allergies and avoidance needs.

Not so with corn.

Corn is not labeled on anything. Furthermore, corn has a reputation as a wholesome, healthy, good-for-you, extremely useful food. It’s the harmless boy-next-door; it couldn’t possibly hurt anyone, right?

I’m still only in the early stages of learning about corn. Zac has shown us that corn is one of his triggers. How severe of a trigger, we do not yet know.

But it is severe enough to have caused 24 hours of vomiting. It is severe enough to cause endless days worth of blood in his stool. It is severe enough to break him out in eczema.

So I’m learning. And what I’m learning is frightening.

Let me SHOW you all the places you’ll find corn.

  • If you drink decaf tea or coffee, it becomes decaffeinated via a process that uses corn.
  • If you buy new towels, they have a corny coating on them that is a pain to remove.
  • Perfume has corn ingredients.
  • Water bottles – at least the eco-friendly ones – are made out of corn.
  • Honey from the grocery store is often “watered down” with corn syrup.
  • Crayons can have corn ingredients; if not in the crayon, then the paper wrapping.
  • Almost all paper is made with corn ingredients.
  • Fresh vegetables are often sprayed with ethylene (corn) to force ripening.
  • The soaker pad in the baskets of fresh fruits and veggies in the grocery store is made of corn.
  • Table salt often uses dextrose (corn-derived) to prevent clumping.
  • Almost all store-bought medicines have at least one – sometimes several – corn ingredients.
  • And probably a thousand or more everyday items contain corn…

Some people are so sensitive to corn, that simply walking into a movie theater is a life-threatening feat. The popcorn filtering through the air can be deadly.

photo courtesy of Grant Cochrane of http://www.freedigitalphotos.net

photo courtesy of Grant Cochrane of http://www.freedigitalphotos.net

‘Wow, that’s lousy,’ you may say. ‘But really, just do your best. If you get contaminated, just get your Epi-pen and go to the hospital; that’s what all the other seriously allergic people do when they react to, for example, dairy. Right?’

Wrong.

Going to the hospital can be deadly for a corn-allergic person. What do the doctors and nurses do for you, first thing, when you’re admitted? They put you on an IV solution of saline.

Which can be corn-derived.

photo courtesy of Bill Longsaw at http://www.freedigitalphotos.net

photo courtesy of Bill Longsaw at http://www.freedigitalphotos.net

And if you need to be on a glucose drip for some reason? Absolutely corn-derived! Not only that, but the paper dressing gowns, medical gloves, hand sanitizer, and almost every individual-use item that will be used on you in a hospital is made out of – you guessed it! – CORN.

Sigh…I’m only scratching the surface here, my friends. Like I said, I’m still learning.

Out of all the “food allergy people” I’ve met in this 3 year journey of ours, the corn-allergic people are the most resourceful, most thorough, most investigative* of any of them. They have to be.

It should not be that way.

I believe that we need to spend some of our food allergy awareness energy in raising awareness of the potential dangers of corn.

  • The “Top 8 Allergen” list should be increased to 9 items, and it should include Corn.
  • Corn should also be listed under the “This products contains”, “May contain”, and “Manufactured in a facility” labels.
  • The materials used in manufacturing the packaging of any item – food or non – should either be labeled on the package itself, or readily and easily available via direct company contact. This should include corn used to clean mechanical lines, dust plastic to prevent sticking, sprayed on the item, or any other possible source of corntamination.

Beyond those official, government necessary steps, the world at large should be made aware of corn and all its pros and cons. Most corn is GMO (genetically modified organisms) and that still, amazingly, is not required to have a label (though they are trying to fix that in Vermont – take that, California!).

Corn farmers receive huge government subsidies to continue growing corn; often at the expense of environmental health and in defiance of common sense. (Watch “King Corn” or visit their website for more info.)

Not to mention that the production of corn is directly associated with Monsanto, a company which has no regard for the laws of God and pays huge sums to control the laws of men. This is a company that financially destroys small farmers on a regular basis for fun. A company that thinks nothing of making a profit off untested food on experimental guinea pigs – humans.

When I think of it, I feel physically repulsed at the idea of consuming any corn.

And that is extremely frustrating, because corn is almost impossible to completely boycott.

As Americans, we should be able to boycott a product if we don’t like it. We should be able to avoid foods that can kill us. We should be able to take care of our primary interest – self-preservation – without fighting a daily uphill battle (at least when we aren’t living in a war zone, which we are not).

None of that is possible with corn.

So spread the word for FAAW: corn is an allergen – a deadly allergen – and this issue of corn must be addressed on two fronts. First, in the minds of the general population, and second, in the minds of Washington lawmakers.

I will continue to learn all I can – the hard way – to protect Zac. But I hope that with further awareness campaigns, he will have a much easier time protecting himself by the time he is an adult.

Please share this link! Share it so people will know about corn, and my son might have a fighting chance at an easier life in 20 years. Thank you!

*When I asked experienced corn-allergic people what questions I should ask of manufacturers to discover if the product was safe, I was told that I would first have to know HOW the product was manufactured to know what questions to ask. One resourceful lady informed me that she was building a dialogue with an Alaskan fisherman to learn what happens to salmon from the minute it is caught until it winds up on our table so she can figure out where corn gets added to salmon. Now THAT is some serious food investigation!

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5 Responses to The Incredible, In-edible CORN

  1. r0llt1d3m0m says:

    This is SO refreshing to see! I’m very sorry that corn is one of your son’s triggers, but I’m also thankful to have someone else who gets it!Who understands the hourly struggle, the constant toe-to-toe with doctors, the endless list of things you must “replace” so that corn doesn’t sneak in and KILL your child. Unfortunately, even when you try, you cannot go “corn-free” because you cannot always manipulate everything around you! A is very sensitive to corn. Because there was so much corn in everything around him (including his formula), he was vomiting all the time, having itchy rashes, painful whelps, major swelling, and lost weight instantly…you name it! I changed careers and became a Detective 😉 We replaced the high chair, sippy cups are stainless steel with silicone spouts, silicone pacifiers, detergent is free and clear, formula is corn-free, toys are mostly wooden, everything is *special and specific, food needs to be “grass fed” not corn fed, no cured meats, must wash hands before picking him up or playing with him. I’ll go one step further…Not only does HE need to be in 100% cotton, but when we’re playing with him WE have to make sure we’re in something over 75% cotton or he reacts. And-he reacts FAST! We’re on a first name basis with our compounding pharmacist, and we’ve started realizing (the more we remove, the easier it is to spot what’s left) that the car seat and stroller need a cover made since they’re mostly made with 100% polyester. Polyester is made with PLA…you guessed it…corn derived! So…once again, THANK YOU for writing this piece and giving all of us *Corn Allergy Mommas* a Voice! I hope it makes waves!

    • Carrie says:

      Oh, wow! Your little man sounds seriously corn-reactive! I’m so sorry, Mama! Like I said in my post, I don’t know how severe Zac is yet, but it’s enough to be concerned about and I’m impressed by what you’ve learned and gone through for your son.

      As a matter of fact, I’d love to find out about the stainless steel sippy cups with silicone spouts! Where do you find those?

      I may not have to ever get as strict as other Mama’s do, but I will always advocate for anyone struggling to provide a safe environment for their kiddos. It was my pleasure to write this! I hope it makes waves, too! Hugs!

  2. Jeshyr says:

    For us who don’t live inside the USA the amount of things they shove corn into in America is bizarre and perplexing! I keep hearing it’s because corn in the USA is so very very cheap so it’s economical to use it for all that stuff, a situation that I suspect is not true elsewhere. Hopefully that means that corn-reactive folks here in Australia don’t have quite such an awful time of it …

    • Carrie says:

      Oh, how nice for you that you don’t have to wonder about corn! Hi, Ricky! I’ve been wondering if you were okay. Glad to see your name again!

      Yes, corn is economical here because of government subsidies. The gov’t. will actually pay farmers to NOT grow things in order to keep corn #1. Isn’t that crazy?

      • Jeshyr says:

        It’s incredibly bizarre!! But then plenty of USA things seem incredibly bizarre from the outside … I’m sure there are Aussie things that seem bizarre from the outside too, but I’ve only seem them from the inside so it’s harder to tell 🙂

        I’ve been OK – working on reducing my prednisolone dose (steroids) so I have been very sleepy and not so well, but most of the time I’m OK!

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