I have this little cartoon character of an ear of corn saying “I’m in everything” taped on the wall in my office. I found it one day while doing research about corn ethanol and thought he was endearing. Coming from a background in agricultural policy and nutrition, I have a pretty good understanding of our modern food system. I get that corn is in A LOT of the food that we eat, as well as the historical and political reasons for why it got there and why it’s probably sticking around awhile. I’m also pretty familiar with the social, environmental and health reasons for why omnipresent corn in an increasingly processed food system may not be such a great thing for farmers and eaters alike. But these are BIG juicy topics, for another day.
My point today: When certain foods are in everything, and you can’t eat that food - stomachs start to growl!
I am recently a new mom. My darling little gal is almost 4 months old, and in that short life has had some serious stomach woes. She cries; we cry. She’s up all night; we’re up all night. It’s a routine that moms and dads of all types, but especially those of colicky children can relate to (and for that, I am truly sorry!). So, after trying every medicine, body therapy and feeding strategy in the book, I decided it was time to really start paying attention to what I eat.
The most common culprits of food intolerance for breastfed children turn out to be soy and dairy proteins. I agreed to a new soy- and dairy-free diet thinking dairy was going to be the tough one to give up. And it is hard...really, really hard. But oh boy, soy, now there’s a doozy! Soy, like corn, is just about in everything too. I didn’t think I ate that much processed food, but lo and behold almost every cracker, bread, frozen meal, cereal and pasta sauce I had in my kitchen had some highly processed version of soy or dairy snuck in there.
So what’s a starving mama to do?
I walked on down to the farmers market, and guess what? Although there were some beautiful cheeses and delicious looking baked goods, most everything was clearly recognizable as soy- and dairy-free! Turns out it’s hard to sneak soy lecithin or milk casein into fresh-picked carrots or kale, and that took the guessing out of that game.
The point of my little story: corn is good, soy is good and dairy is good too. Yes, I love all three, and I really cannot wait to have a scoop of ice cream again! But in an ever complex and processed food system, it can be borderline impossible to know what the heck you’re putting in your body when you get too removed from both the original product and the source. When you keep it wholesome and close to home, buying good healthy food from family farmers, restricted diets begin to feel not quite so restricting.
I'd love to hear from the moms out there who have gone through a similar experience--especially if you have some recipes to share!