September 17, 2008
To: Corn Refiners Association
CC: Senator Dianne Feinstein
Senator Barbara Boxer
Food and Drug Administration
Food Allergy and Anaphylaxis Network
Local newspapers editorial columns
Dear Ladies and Gentlemen of the Corn Refiners Association:
I am writing this letter in response to the “Sweet Surprise” advertising campaign.
My husband and I have two sons. My oldest, Alex developed allergies and sensitivities to some foods as he grew. We monitored and modified his diet and environment as he became older, but as he reached 2 years of age, he became very sick with frightening physical and emotional symptoms.
We finally discovered that Alex was suffering from severe food allergies. However, it took me months to discover what food. He was reacting to almost everything he ate, every day. I finally discovered the culprit. It was corn. I had never heard of a corn allergy, and I certainly didn’t realize that some form of corn was in nearly every item in our home.
It has been over a year now that we have been avoiding corn. It has completely changed our lives. We no longer eat out, and I make many things myself from powdered sugar to play dough. I learned to shop on the internet, at farm stands, and health food stores for safe foods; and can no longer just drop into the local supermarket. I bring my list of safe foods carefully researched by a diligent online group which can be found on the Avoiding Corn forum on Delphi Forums.
I recently saw the “Sweet Surprise” ad on television and in a magazine. It was so disheartening to see these ads. I’m not a food chemist, and so can not respond to the allegation that high fructose corn syrup is “just like” cane sugar or honey, but I can comment on the ubiquitous nature of corn in our lives. It is absurd to even offer that corn syrup is “OK in moderation”. There is no way to limit corn syrup to “moderation” in the Standard American Diet. In the blogging community this topic frequently comes up even among people without food allergies. Finding one loaf of bread without corn in the bread aisle of a regular grocery store is impossible.
Corn hides behind hundreds of different names, and you don’t know if there really is corn in an item until you call the manufacturer, and sometimes they don’t know themselves. There is even corn in the inactive ingredients of the majority of medicines, even allergy medicines! I know that I am not alone in asking that corn not only be labeled clearly, but to put an end to the ubiquitous nature of corn in our lives.
It is time for the monoculture of corn to end. This “Sweet Surprise” campaign is transparent as a last ditch attempt to save the omnipresent corn monoculture, but we are not going to buy it. Please recognize that it is time to diversify, it is time to clearly label what is going into our foods, medicines, and products. It is time for people like my son to have a chance to find healthy food to eat.