A glass of corn, please

«You take the blue pill, the story ends.

You wake up in your bed and believe whatever you want to believe.

You take the red pill, you stay in wonderland,

and I show you how deep the rabbit hole goes»

(From A. e L. Wachowski’s “The Matrix”, 1999)

For the time being, it’s still possible to take part in the Public Consultation on Identification Marking for Agricultural Products, launched by the Ministry of Agricultural, Food and Forestry Policies. In addition, on Saturday 13th December 2014, the Regulation of the European Parliament and of Council on the provision of food information to consumers entered into force all around Europe; thanks to this Regulation, we have to get used to new symbols and indications that should allow us to know more about what we are buying. The problem is worrisome because the agricultural industry has become very complicated and, today, it uses products that are more difficult to identify. But, what should consumers do next?

Some people say: «You just eat what your grandma considers natural food».

Modified starch, glucose syrup, maltodextrin, ascorbic acid, unmodified starch, crystalline fructose, lactid acid, monosodium glutamate, caramel color, xantham gum, lecithin, mono- and diglycerides.

It’s strange to say, but all these ingredients have something in common: they derive from corn, the fantastic plant also known, in Italy, as “granoturco” (sweet corn).

«Read the ingredients on the label of any processed food and, provided you know the chemical names it travels under, corn is what you will find. […] Corn is in the coffee whitener and Cheez Whiz, the frozen yogurt and tv dinner, the canned fruit and ketchup and candies, the soup and snacks and cake mixes […], the mayonnaise and mustard, the hot dogs and the bologna […], the salad dressings and the relishes and even the vitamins (Yes, it’s in the Twinkie, too)».

At the beginning of his book (entitled “The Omnivore’s Dilemma: A Natural History of Four Meals”), Michael Pollan reveals to us an unknown fact: nowadays, corn is the undisputed protagonist in the food chain, occupying spaces that before belonged to other products.

This new situation influences consumers and food production, processing and marketing systems. «Corn is what feeds the steer that becomes the steak. Corn feeds the chicken and the pig […], the catfish and the tilapia». And the list could go on and on.

The author identifies with three different eating models; the most interesting is the industrial one, which begins in a cornfield and ends in a fast food.

Pollan’s book should be read in all the schools, in his version for young adults, too. When we talk about feeding, we have to connect to the information we need and to use it consciously. That’s the major signal because eating “a glass of corn” during a nice documentary, it does no one any harm. As long as we bear this in mind, we shall be on the right track.

Wrtitten by Giordano Golinelli, Fondazione ACRA-CCS

Translated into English by Arianna Rimoldi

Originally published on http://blog.zonageografia.scuola.com

Photo Mazorca embasada (cc) citoplasmas