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A Typical American Day…with Corn

Corn - It's in Everything How many times do you think you interact with corn based products in a given day? Ten times? Twenty? Thirty?

In the documentary King Corn, the filmmakers Curt Ellis and Ian Cheney are introduced to Professor Stephen Macko, and his methods for hair analysis. Cheney has a sample of hair tested, and the results are astonishing, as Cheney learns his hair shows how corn dominates his diet.

For real world comparison, join me on a walk through the day of a typical American female. She’s in her mid-30’s and strives to eat a healthy, well balanced diet, as well as interact with as few chemicals as possible. For sake of example, this woman’s name is Susie.

Susie awakens in the morning, brushes her teeth, uses mouthwash, and hops in the shower. While in the shower, she uses shampoo, conditioner, and body wash. After showering, she uses her allergy nasal spray, and pops her daily allergy pill and multi-vitamin as she begins to brew her coffee.

Total interactions with corn before breakfast? Eight items, some with multiple corn-based ingredients. Let’s take a closer look…

Items below show their corn based ingredients, and then brand name for a concrete example:

  1. Toothpaste: Sorbitol and Sodium Saccharin - Colgate Total 12 Hour Multi-Protection Toothpaste
  2. Mouthwash: Sorbitol and Sodium SaccharinListerine
  3. Shampoo: Citric Acid - Giovanni Tea Tree Triple Treat Shampoo
  4. Conditioner: Citric Acid – Giovanni Smooth as Silk Conditioner
  5. Body Wash: – Xanthan Gum, Citric AcidBurt’s Bees Milk & Shea Butter Body Wash
  6. Nasal Allergy Spray: DextroseFlonase
  7. Daily Allergy Pill: Microcrystalline Cellulose, Magnesium Stearate - Zyrtec
  8. Daily Multi-Vitamin: Cellulose, Magnesium Stearate, Starch, Tocopherol, and a whole bunch of FD&C coloring - One-A-Day Women's Formula Vitamins
Susie progresses on to have coffee with milk and Sweet N’Low, thinking it’s better for her than sugar. That’s a +1 for the corn side given she just consumed dextrose, care of that little pink packet.

She’s in a hurry and decides to skip breakfast, taking yogurt with her as a snack for later instead. She grabs a yogurt, her favorite – Yoplait Whips – and packs up her things. The corn in that last minute grab includes the ever popular High Fructose Corn Syrup, along with Modified Corn Starch. This is another +1 for corn.

Susie is now really running late for work, and quickly applies some light makeup consisting of face powder, blush, and a light lip tint. Each of the facial powders contain corn starch, and the lip tint? Well she went with Burt’s Bees, which means she’ll be licking corn off her lips in the form of corn based Tocopherol. The makeup session gave us a +3 for corn.

Where are we now? Oh yes, we’re up to 13 interactions with corn and it’s first thing in the morning.

Let’s speed this up a bit. Susie goes to work, eats her yogurt in the car (we already counted that), and realizes she didn’t bring enough of a snack. When she gets to work, she goes for her emergency stash of Ritz crackers she keeps at her desk. This point went yet again to High Fructose Corn Syrup, who is definitely in the lead is this match.

For lunch, Susie grabs a salad from the cafeteria, and chooses a Fat Free Ranch dressing (complete with Corn Syrup, Modified Corn Starch, Cellulose Gum, Xanthan Gum, and Tocopheryl Acetate). For our example, we can use Wish Bone.

She also purchases a sandwich to eat back at her desk – a turkey and cheese sandwich. Since most lunch meats are injected with Dextrose, she would have consumed this unless she happened to be eating organic meat. Given she’s at an office cafeteria, those odds are low. The last thing she grabs to include with her salad and sandwich, is a Vlasic Kosher Dill pickle, which is packaged in Polysorbate 80. And lastly, she finishes her lunch with some chewing gum to freshen her breath, Trident White, because it is sugar free, and helps to whiten teeth. She may be whitening her teeth, but she’s also consuming Sorbitol, and Mannitol. And to answer the unasked, but well researched question – no, there are no chewing gums available for purchase in the US that are 100% corn free. Glee Gum almost makes that cut, but doesn’t.

Later in the day Susie goes to a friend’s house for dinner. The friend prepared chicken, with side dishes of vegetables and rice. The chicken was seasoned with seasoned salt (yep, more corn, in the form of corn starch), the vegetables were pre-sweetened with sauce in the package (just read the label of ANY frozen vegetables with a sauce for this example), and the rice “fortified”.

The current tally? 20 interactions with corn, even though it wasn’t on the menu. Add in some dessert such as ice cream or cookies, and that number likely just went up to 21. Oh, wait, Susie got a headache, and took some Tylenol (Corn Starch, Magnesium Stearate, Powdered Cellulose), and washed it down with a Diet Coke. Now we’re up to 23.

Corn in Everything

Poor Susie… she really tries to eat healthy and limit her interactions with chemicals as much as possible. However, she has allergies, asthma, and eczema for which her doctors give her medicine to “control” her conditions. Her asthma inhaler is Proventil, which uses ethanol derived from corn. When her asthma or eczema really act up, her doctor will prescribe Prednisone to help her “break the cycle.” Prednisone contains several types of corn based ingredients including; microcrystalline cellulose, polysorbate 80, and saccharin sodium. 

What’s really wrong with our “typical” example here? Susie has an undiagnosed Corn Allergy, because her doctors treat her Asthma and Eczema as dead-end conditions with no cause. The very medications she is prescribed to “help” those conditions actually continue to make them worse – because they contain her allergens. Since the amount of ingredients that may be derived from corn is so lengthy, unless a person suspects they have a corn allergy, or is tested specifically for one – it remains undiagnosed. Even with an “elimination” diet (avoiding all corn), it is very difficult to reach that 100% corn free state. It seems almost magically unreachable given the reaches of corn in America.

If you or someone you know has an allergy to corn – it’s time to speak up. There is a problem in this country, and it goes by the name of corn.

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  1. THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU FOR THIS!!! I am also allergic to corn, and there are precious few advocates for people like us. Thank you for raising awareness. Corn is EVERYWHERE!

  2. Sharon, this is amazing. I salute you for not only providing the attention to this issue that is so badly needed but how you did it, Susie...well done indeed.

  3. Absolutely fabulous. My son has a corn allergy. The day I realized that some toilet papers have cornstarch in them, I realized we were in for a long and crazy ride.

  4. @oaxacaborn I'm very glad you found this site ;-) I know there are other Corn Free sites out there too, but in my opinion - the more of us who talk about this, the better! If you ever have questions, or ideas or suggestions for topics you would like covered, please let me know. - sharon @

    @Jerry, thanks Dad ;-0

    @Laureen It is AMAZING how much I still learn on a daily basis of new places corn seems to be hidden. Amazing, and scary.

    And of course, please share this site if you can. The more people who know about how much corn is in our daily lives, the more we can do.

  5. Sharon,
    This is an awesome article! I will share it on my facebook fan page. We do have a problem with corn in this country, that's for sure. And we have a problem with doctors, pharmaceuticals and corporations that want people to stay sick and dependent on them...


  6. Jo, thank you so much for sharing the article with your readers! The more we know as consumers, the better :-)

  7. oohhoohh! you missed the coffee beans polished with corn... some brands do, some don't! Thanks for sharing - I'll definitely re-post this.

  8. What about the cornstarch in the airbags in the car, good thing "Susie" didn't get into an accident, if her airbag went off she would have corn all over her, her clothes and possibly in her lungs.

  9. Karen,

    Oh, and after the car accident, Susie goes to the hospital, and receives an IV with glucose - now being fed corn into her veins. It would be funny if it wasn't scary...

  10. My niece has a corn allergy. Thankfully she is not a "touch sensitive" but only has reaction if ingested. Otherwise she would be in a bubble. Corn in her birth control pills, feminine products, aluminum (in deodorant), Also, if a chicken eats corn, NO KFC for her. If same chicken eats corn, then lays an egg, Sorry, Easter = no colored eggs.
    We found out early for her though, her mom ate an egg that was laid by a chicken that ate corn. NO BREAST MILK TODAY KIDDO.

  11. Oh and you forgot to add a point for the cheese in her sandwich! Most American made cheeses are made with white vinegar which is most often corn derived OR they are packaged using corn starch.

  12. Excellent post!
    I own King Corn and was working on a review of it along with some supplemental info when I found you!


  13. Amazing article/post.... Very accurately describes how it is trying to avoid corn. I desensitized for about 10 years but after my ER visit last week, I'm back on the "no-corn wagon." It can be pretty frustrating trying to live at all not having contact with corn. Almost impossible. My prescription meds, of course have multiple corn products and fillers. Maddening. Not sure how I'm going to get around that.

    Responder KwK is making me a little worried-- I just got some canned chicken with no vegetable broth or anything and I eat eggs. I hope that is not going to end up containing corn particles.


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