Monday, October 25, 2010

Iowa Corn Tour – Part 2 of 2

Please read before getting to my post: Everything in today's post is my own opinion, thoughts and feelings with the addition of facts listed by experts. I signed up for this trip when I was originally asked to come out to Iowa to learn more about the journey of how food gets to our plate. This was way before I knew that it was an all expense paid trip which included flight, hotel and meals. I was not paid to attend nor was I told to tell you any scripted text. I'm blogging about my experience is my choice and my personal mission to share what I learned. You'll also be able to find links to back up supporting information from the experts whom I was able to speak with. As with any of my post I welcome any and all feed back whether you disagree or have additional questions, I will do my best to have those questions answered by any of the people I've spoken to in a timely manner. I will not tolerate any comments left which are name calling and disrespectful. I do hope you read with an open mind before jumping to any conclusions. This will be a long post, but I want you to have all of the information I was given in order to make your own opinions.

To read Part 1 of this post click HERE.

Day 2 – October 14th

Up bright and early again today which to be honest I was the most nervous about. With all of the debate out there of what’s good for you and what’s not I was going into today open minded and wanted to set the record straight about everything we had been told by someone and hearsay. Today’s topics would be the ones that effect each and every one of us.


We headed off to Gateway Market for breakfast and an open discussion with Doctor Ruth MacDonald, Professor and chair, Department of Food Science and Human Nutrition at Iowa State University.


As I sat and listened to what Dr. MacDonald had to say while I ate my breakfast I IMG_6070couldn’t help but wonder what the reaction I would get from readers would be. I know not everyone will like what she had to say or the supporting data, but would ya’ll really take my advice and research the data provided by the very people who allow these products to be on the market? We all worry about pesticides, hormones, fats, organic, free range, processed foods, sodium, etc. This is where a lot of people will disagree with what I took away from the conversation, but remember this comes from a doctor who has studied the effects and done plenty of research on all of these topics. I stress that I hope you will do the research yourself and ask the professionals before lashing out at me. Please visit the USDA website and the FDA website for any questions you have. Keep in my we live in a country that has freedom of speech so not everything in movies, news, books, etc. is all factual. We need someone to blame and the hop topic now happens to affect the corn industry.

Enough of my begging, lets dive in and see if we can clean up any misunderstanding you and I may have had. I don’t want to add any additional fluff so I’m going to just list everything.

-High Fructose Corn Syrup as know as HFCS is chemically the same as sugar. They are also similar in sweetness. It’s cheaper to make HFCS and was originally tied up with sugar in a study link to diabetic research. The finding didn’t mean to apply it was the cause it’s just a usage issue.

-Fructose is converted into Glucose in the body.

-Honey is higher in Fructose.

-Plastic wrap has been on the scene as a major concern in using. Bottom line it has an ingredient that makes it bend which will leak out when heated in the microwave. It’s best to use something else to cover your food when heating it. The chemical concern is a very common ingredient in many things such as make-up, cans, etc. Just want to use in moderation just as everything else.

-Artificial sweeteners have no health risk to cancer or anything it’s a bogus statement.

-Splenda is the most researched artificial sweetener on the market.

-Chemicals and terminology listed on labels are sometimes natural ingredients listed in the chemical term.

-Fortified means it wasn’t there originally, such as calcium in OJ

-Reduced sodium means 25% less sodium then the original product had which may not be much less.

-FDA website has a full list of terms and their meanings for any concerns listed on label.

-Processed foods doesn’t equal evil food. Tomato vs. sauce or ketchup is a good example. There are more nutrients in the ketchup then eating a tomato by itself because the enrichment factor is greater.

-Thinking of terms of the environment it is more efficient to purchase processed foods that have been cleaned in mass production vs. to wash the vegetable yourself which will waste more power and water.

-The one concern with buying a product being sold at the farmers market vs. something purchased at the grocery store is that the local farm is picking to store, which raises the question of how long ago was that item picked? The grocery store purchases their produce from larger farms which is harvested and then gone through a series of quality control where as the local farmer has no inspections or guidelines to follow. For all you know he could have picked the fruit and washed it in a muddy river. Again this isn’t always the case, just something to think about. It’s not about big vs. small farmers it’s about quality control and keeping the standards the same across the board.

-Hormones are naturally in animals. There are now ban’s in place on hormones being added to animals before being butchered.

Quick overview of fats:

-Tans Fats are the worst you can have. Not as huge of an issue anymore now that everything is moving to Saturated Fats.

-Saturated Fats are your butters and lards

-Mono Unsaturated Fats are your olive oils

-Polly Unsaturated Fats are the liquid oils

The object with fats is you need to keep a balance as well as keeping fat in general to a minimal.

Mega Farming vs. Organic Farming:

Mega Farming usually gets a bad wrap, but it’s not necessarily environmentally harmful. Some of you may be under the impression that Organic Farming mean's no chemicals where used, but in fact that is not the case. I myself also thought that, but organic farms has a list of 195 chemicals which they are approved to use. For an approved list click HERE. Our mind set is “I must buy organic over regular because it’s better”. The nutrition is the same the only difference is the quality may be a little better, but not always.

-The topic of people not living as long, girls starting menstrual cycles at an earlier age and obesity was brought in concern with it being linked to chemicals in our foods and BST also known as Bovine Somatotropin . There is no evidence to show that the hormone in BST animals vs. non BST tested animals. If you think back to your great grandparents and how they where slimmer it’s because they had smaller meal portions. Chemicals in general are used in more products now a days such as clothing, make-up, the air we breathe, etc. Our great grandparents didn’t have half of the things we do now a days that contribute to our exposure to chemicals.

-Did you know broccoli is a generically altered food? A scientist came across this food by mistake from pollinating different breeds together. You won’t find a label with it’s genic makeup because nothing has been added to it once it’s been harvested. Now a days the same thing is done in labs under a more controlled environment vs. the old days where you wait to see what happens in the field. Personally I don’t see anything wrong with science stepping in and genetically altering food.

-The controversy of farm house chickens vs. free range chickens. If a chicken is sick it’s easier to control the spread of dieses and easily isolate and treat the infected chicken in a farm house.

Another special guest who was at the breakfast where also local farmers. I felt bad for them as most of our questions where geared towards Dr. MacDonald, but they did voice their opinion in concern with how farmers feel on the subjects and where they stand on working with scientist and researchers to make our world better.


Moderation is the key to everything! You can’t loose weight without diet and exercise they go hand in hand. The best thing you can do is familiarize yourself with what's on the labels by doing research of the food you eat and adjusting your diet accordingly, rather then shoving it aside and grabbing a carrot instead.

One last food for thought….Ecoli. Ecoli can get into the plants and it’s not necessarily something you can just wash off. Vegetable sprays are a waste of money. Use common sense when preparing and handling your food. When the last scare on eggs broke out they found it was a contaminate bin of food. The eggs themselves weren't infected it was the coating of the egg that wasn’t caught in quality control. How many of you wash your eggs before cracking them open? How many of you touch the eggs in the store swapping out the cracked ones for good ones in the carton? Think of how many un-sanitized hands touch your egg before you crack it open for cooking. Our bodies are all different and our sensitivity levels are all different so just because you get sick doesn’t mean your spouse will.

I honestly could have spoken and listened to Dr. MacDonald for hours. Feel free to contact her directly if you have any questions.


Our last stop on the Iowa Corn Tour was Ador Kitchens. We met chef Terrie Kohl who divided us into groups to prepare a meal using corn and pork products.


Before we got started Erin Brenneman quickly went over what she and her husband do on their hog farm.


Group one made Cider Sauced Apple, Walnut and Bacon Stuffed Iowa Pork Chops


Group two made 3 Bean with Sweet Potato Chili

Group three (my group) made dessert Warm Spiced Apple Dumplings with Vanilla Bean Ice Cream. Group four made Leek, Cremini Mushroom and Roasted Corn Risotto.

groups2lunch with chef

Overall I loved risotto and the simple dessert. I can post recipes if you would like just let me know.

And just like that our event wrapped up and we had to say our goodbyes. I walked away with new friends and a pages of tips from fellow bloggers whom I urge you to visit their sites to see their take on the experience even maybe be inspired by the topics they have to discuss on their site. Everyone is so different and unique in their own way, but we all share the passion and the choice to know where our food comes from, making the right decisions based on the knowledge we gain each and every day.


Bill Couser’s contact information:
Iowa Corn contact information:
- Office phone number - (515) 225-9242
- Mindy Williamson -
- Shannon Textor -
- Claire Masker -
Dr. Ruth MacDonald: or (515) 294-5991
Nutrition Education site: click HERE Substances that are allowed under the USDA certified organic program: click HERE USDA and FDA websites


  1. That's a lot of things explained. Once again, glad you were able to attend this event and that you learned so much.

  2. Lots of great information! I am still working on mine.

  3. There is a huge difference between natural hybridization and altering genes in a lab. Are hybrids "genetically altered?" Yes, via selective breeding over generations. The broccoli example is extremely misleading--not the same thing at all. You will not get a tomato to cross-breed with a salmon unless you have a lab, for instance.

  4. Your sponsors were friendly and "informative," but don't think they told you the entire story.

    The purpose of the Iowa Corn Growers is "creating opportunities for long-term Iowa corn grower profitability." That's the banner on their website. Make no mistake, all their outreach to you was about PROFITABILITY. Not good health, not treating the earth gently, but making a buck.

    Dr. MacDonald was paid to convince you that corn syrup is healthy, that genetic modification is benign, that eating ketchup is healthier than eating a tomato. Don't be impressed by the Dr. in front of her name. There are plenty of other scientists out there who are not taking money from big business who will tell you something very different.