You know the world’s upside down when you have to cast a wary at popcorn.
Popcorn! What in the world could be wrong with good old popcorn?
Well, they’ve gone and messed with it, that’s what. It’s not the simple, innocent, family treat of yesteryear.
Corn is the #2 in genetically modified food
First off, corn ranks number two in genetically-modified foods. (Soy is first.)
They’ll tell you they monkey with it to make it better, but if you’re buying that malarkey, be prepared to pay up for a bridge in Brooklyn, too.
The more they genetically modify corn, the more people become sensitive to it. Sensitive in the sense it makes their gastrointestinal system do the fandango.
Lots and lots of people make it a high priority to avoid corn–which is hard to do since it’s just about everywhere. A few days of the gastro gallops helps them to remember to read labels, though.
Since GMO appeared on the scene not so long ago, we don’t know if all this fandangoing is as far as the problems go. But it’s not looking good.
GMO corn caused genetic damage in an animal study
Feeding GMO corn to rats causes genetic damage.
The offspring of the GMO-fed rats get hit even worse, and the grandchildren of the GMO-fed rats are sterile.
Now, rats are not people, but these findings don’t create happy thoughts in my noggin.
But, wait, there’s more!
Most of today’s popcorn gets nuked in the microwave.
Well, it’s a fact you can’t just throw a handful of kernels in the microwave and zap them for a minute or two. No, popcorn comes in handy-dandy bags–along with some chemicals.
Microwave popcorn bags are full of toxic PFOA
First, the bag’s lining contains perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA), which has links to human infertility. PFOA accumulates in your body year after year, and it appears it may incite some cancers–liver, pancreatic and testicular.
Some companies said they’d voluntarily phase PFOA out by 2015, but who knows how many followed through. There’s no guarantee.
Then there’s the synthetic diacetyl that gives microwave popcorn its buttery flavor. One enthusiastic popcorn eater–with a sixteen-year addiction–made the news recently because she has permanent lung damage and may require a lung transplant.
Fake butter leads to lung damage
Workers in diacetyl-laden microwave popcorn factories also suffer untreatable lung damage. And zapping the popcorn at home raises the diacetyl levels in your house to factory levels. Some fun, eh?
The U.S. government, of course, hasn’t issued any warnings or orders on the use of diacetyl.
And let’s not overlook the partially hydrogenated oils–transfats–listed on the label. Transfats cause inflammation, and inflammation causes major body breakdowns. Heart attacks, for one instance.
Does all this mean you can never eat popcorn again? No. Just do it right.
How to make popcorn right
Buy non-GMO popcorn kernels. If the label doesn’t say ‘non-GMO,’ put the bag back on the shelf and walk quickly away. Don’t know what to look for? Do an internet search, if not to buy, at least to learn brand names.
A heavy, cast iron pot requires no oil. Otherwise, you’ll need something to keep the popcorn from sticking to the pan.
Cooking popcorn in butter requires a deft hand because butter tends to burn, producing unappetizing, blackish popcorn. Coconut oil does a body good, but it makes popcorn taste a little funky–unless you like coconut-flavored popcorn.
Palm oil’s good, too, but hard to find; use just a little. But skip the inflammation-in-a-bottle vegetable oils; they’re all bad for you.
Do you think we can ever go back to the days when simple things like enjoying some popcorn don’t turn into big, complicated deals? Snacking shouldn’t require a college degree in science.
But, you know, every problem includes an opportunity, and this mess creates a fabulous marketing opportunity for any popcorn company that wants to do it right. And it also presents us with the opportunity to let popcorn companies know what’s right and good.