Sometimes, despite our best efforts, corn slips through the cracks of our glass bubbles and into our diets. And despite our best detective work, we're hard put to track down just where that corn slipped in.
Did the ingredients of some normal dietary staple change? A new supplier for the cereal grain? Did our vitamin supplier switch the source of something? Was it that whiff of popcorn that we raced past at the mall? Did we remember to scrutinize each new package for the dreaded words "New and improved"? (Which most of us by now have learned means "Now fortified with CORN")
Of course, when the inevitable "corning" occurs, it's important to scrutinize labels and contact suspect companies. After determining that the spices are safe, no ingredients now come with their own "hypoallergenic" corny contents, and that there just isn't any noticable change in the ingredient lists, it's time to think outside the box.
Like the Corn Growers. Who stepped outside the box, looked at it and said "Ah, ha!"
Sometimes, it's possible for corn to be in the package itself. In fact, with the increasing awareness of environmental responsibility and a strong consumer desire for "green" packaging, plastic derived from corn starches is becoming a very popular choice for producers.
NatureWorks has been hard at work developing disposable food packaging that is "safe" for the environment. Basically, corn sugars are isolated and fermented to create a durable, but compostable, plastic resin that can be used for anything from deli trays to coffee cups. It can be heat sealed, and withstand significant temerature changes. And, of course, it's made from everyone's favorite hypo-allergenic (not) corn.
Whether these new packages are really a problem for corn allergic individuals will remain a mystery to the medical industry until studies, good studies, are done. And unfortunately, since funding for studies that will help to understand and define corn allergies and reactions in general is lacking, my hopes aren't especially high. The benefits of environmentally friendly, renewable resources sound very tempting. Except that I, personally, am acquainted with the threats that lie within the supply.
So watch out...and then next time that you get "corned" from mysterious sources, check the water bottle, the meat tray, the cheese wrap and the produce baskets. For us, that enviro-friendly decal is about as friendly as a Jolly Roger flag.