Sunday, January 25, 2009

King Corn

Wyatt and I rented the film "King Corn" last night. It's a documentary about the abundance of corn products in the average American's diet. It was pretty interesting and opened my eyes to a few things I knew nothing about. Not the part about corn being a major ingredient in most foods...I knew that already, courtesy of the book "In the Defense of Food". (And I'm happy to say after rumaging through our fridge and cupboards we have a small percentage of food that actually does contain corn.) However, I was not aware of the fact that most cows spend their last days of life in a feed lot eating corn. Maybe I was aware of this but chose to squeeze it from my memory? Hmmmm.... Anyway, it made me stop and think about modern day technology and if it really is a good thing or not. Here is my point:

We discovered if we fed cows corn they could gain weight twice as fast (if not more) with a fraction of the space needed. So with the help of modern technology we are able to make food more plentiful using feed lots. Good, right? I'm not so sure... As a result of feed lots and corn diets cows are more prone to diseases (not harmful to humans...just the cows - I think). Things like ulcerates. Poor cows, right? I guess that depends on how you feel about cows. The feed lots/corn diet has an affect on humans too. We're not getting the same nutrients from meat as we once were. Meat today has higher levels of fat and lower levels of protein. Bad, right?

Before Modern Technology = less amounts of good quality meat & healthy cows
Modern Technology = more amounts of poor quality meat & unhealthy cows

So did modern technology really help the situation? Sure we have more meat but what about the quality? I haven't really established an opinion/side on the issue. I know that this new information hasn't stopped me from wanting to eat meat (we just had tacos!). And I know that there has got to be a better way to go about doing it. I think that we were blessed with modern technology for a reason - to be able to solve modern day issues. I just think we haven't come up with a final solution on this issue yet. I figure once scientists, ranchers, farmers, etc. are able to find a solution that provides better meat for humans, a better quality of life for cows (I know, they're here for us to eat...but does that mean they have to live a crappy life?), and a sufficient production of meat (cheap enough for all to enjoy) then we can call it good. So there you have it - I'm a fence sitter on the issue. I think more is better but I also think high-quality is better.

On another note but similar topic; I've been wanting to test out my food storage along with the wheat grinder we got for Christmas three years ago. The problem is, I don't have the slightest clue how to bake with whole wheat. I've read online about splitting the flour 50/50 with whole wheat flour and white flour. I also went to an enrichment class yesterday where the lady said she baked her cookies with 100% whole wheat flour. You know, listening to someone lecture you and trying things "hands on" are two very different things. I think they need a lab with the lectures they give at enrichment. So to any of my readers, do you bake with whole wheat flour? If so, how do you do it? Any tips or suggestions? Any recipes? Any information you could provide me from what type of wheat you use, to how you grind it, to how much you bake with would be very helpful...

On another note that has nothing to do with this very LONG rambling post (I doubt any of my readers have made it this far) - Portland experienced TEN days in a row of sunshine. TEN!!!! Yesterday's clouds broke the sunny streak. However, it was sunny today and is forecasted to be sunny the next four days! I have been extra chipper this month! Hooray!


Abbie said...

Happy Sunshine to you! The documentary sounded interesting. I agree with you about waiting to form an opinion. I know there are two sides to every story but having grown up near feed lots and knowing America's "I need it now" mentality, those facts don't sound surprising. On a different note. I have a regular bread recipe that I sometimes substitute wheat flour in. Email me if you would like it. It's actually the one my Mom uses so it's probably a Hamblin recipe. But the 50/50 is right or else most of the time things will be too dense.

Miriam Lovell Dyer said...

I too have my mom's bread recipe that I love and uses 50/50. Email me minnadyer[at]gmail[dot]com
I almost always put at least a little bit of ww flour in things I make: pizza dough, breadsticks. Having "white" is kind of a treat in our house.

Collette said...

I think that the weather is making up for the mess it made at Christmas. Yay for sunshine in January. Nothing is better for the soul.
Surprisingly...I don't have any opinion on the way cows are raised. I should probably care more. If you get a good recipe, be sure to share!

Mel said...

Thank you for the Snickers! Those are one of my favorite treats. (Are they made with corn?) Cheers to you for starting to grind your own wheat. We have recently started using Bob's Red Mill wheat flour in a lot of things, because we don't have a grinder and aren't quite ready to enter that world. I have found that cooking with 50/50 is a good place to start because it does affect the density of whatever you are making. However, I have since experimented with 100% WW and we really have liked the results with waffles, pancakes, rolls and even chocolate chip cookies. I basically use my regular recipe and use WW flour instead. I don't know if grinding it yourself helps make it more light or more dense, but don't be afraid to experiment!

Jasher said...

Because I am firmly on the side of the cows in this predictament I boldly proclaim "Eat Mor Chikin!" :)

I've tried whole wheat in waffles and pancakes and they've turned out alright. I know somewhere I have more recipes buried...

hyker said...

That was a lot of information to process this morning when I read it. Interesting though. We never fed our cattle corn.......I don't bake........and the sun is shining in Seattle today even though it snowed yesterday.

AJ said...

hello brittany-
i have had the most amazing WHOLE wheat pancakes and waffles. They were so delicious. I would try those first and then move on to more ambitious projects.

the cow/corn issues are very interesting. i am with on when should we/not use modern day technology. i actually feel this way about diet soda and fake sugars. i would rather have the real deal than some weird fake chemical going into my body. that is just me.

i seriously think i am having seasonal depression. i need to move. i am so happy you guys got 10 days of sunshine.

Matt & Val said...

Hey Brit,
I actually make my homemade bread with half wheat flour half white. I will give you the recipe - I think I have your email address but why don't you give it to me again just in case? Hope all is well.

Anonymous said...

My mother always used half wheat and half white. So, Sunday dinner rolls with white flour were a treat and like cake. The beginning of my love affair with bread, I believe.

I loved going up to Lois and Dale's BEFORE Lois began to bake bread. They always had white WONDER bread. Now THAT was a treat after eating wheat bread at home. Wheat is good. I love wheat.


Jeanna said...

I have a pretty good bread recipe using all wheat. It isn't heavy or anything. I gave it to another friend and she really digs it and says it is the first wheat bread recipe that her whole family actually likes (she has 8 kids and baking bread is a necessity).

Anyway, call me and I'll give you the recipe.

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