Last spring I planted a 16 square foot patch of dirt with potatoes.  Potatoes come with a significant disadvantage: when they are ready to harvest, they’re buried in the ground!  And unlike carrots, which mark themselves with a handy frill of greenery, potatoes spread themselves out underground and offer no signal to guide your digging. 


On the upside, potatoes (at least here in the temperate Northwest) will happily hang out in the ground until you are ready to use them.  And that’s how I came to be digging the last of last year’s potatoes out of the garden in February.  In fact, the spring-like weather we’ve had of late forced me to do so, as the potatoes were on the verge of sprouting anew.


So I scrabbled through the dirt with my hands and my spade, trying to find the taters without injuring them.  And by the way, it can be difficult to distinguish a potato from a rock until you’ve removed it from the ground, which made me feel a little like Charlie Brown on Halloween.  (“I got a yellow potato!”  “I got a red one!”  “I got a rock.”)


TGeek turned the load of undersized Russets (apparently my little potato patch was insufficiently spacious to grow those giant Russets) I dug up yesterday into a whopping load of hashbrowns this morning.  Stoked up on starchy goodness, I went out and found another 10 pounds of Yellow Satins and Red Blisses.  Roasted garlic mashed potatoes, anyone?


All the while I was thinking, there’s no corn in this food.


That’s because I’ve been reading The Omnivore’s Dilemma, and if you haven’t read it yet, you must.  You must.  I guarantee you will never look at your plate the same way again.


The author explains that nearly everything we eat is actually corn.  Because the government, for decades, has been subsidizing farmers in a way that encourages, in fact demands, the vast overproduction of commodity grade corn.  Mountains of corn.  A river of kernels.  And so every packaged, processed food we consume is made out of a whole incomprehensible ingredient list of corn products and corn by-products.  And the meat we eat comes from animals that were fed mostly corn, even though their natural diets include no such thing, and so eating meat is really eating corn too.  (Eating meat is also eating all the drugs they have to give the animals so they don’t get too sick eating corn instead of their natural diets.)  Americans eat more corn per capita than any other population, and that includes Mexicans who eat corn tortillas at every meal.  And most of the time, we don’t even know we’re eating it. 


Because farmers grow way, way too much corn, it is cheap cheap cheap.  And that means the people who make food products use it as much as possible.  You don’t think Coca Cola switched from sugar to high fructose corn syrup because it tastes better, do you?  And because they want you to buy all that cheap, cheap corn, they find ways to sell you ever bigger, ever denser portions of corn-laden processed foods.   


There’s much more.  The book is enough to make me not want to eat anything I didn’t grow myself, ever again, and I’m only ¼ way through it.  Luckily, I have potatoes to last a few days.







  1. Mmmm, potatoes are such an underestimated food. You can do so much with them. Nothing beats a fully-laden baked potato. :9BTW, sorry I didn’t return your comment yesterday, I’ve kind of just been posting a lot. And I agree, it’s mostly a waste of time to argue. But sometimes you just have to say things, you know? 😦

  2. When I was a kid (back in the day before we invented nutrition) my favorite cereal was Sugar Pops (Sugar Pops are tops).  Then we decided that sugar was bad.  So now they make Corn Pops.  

  3. Good post.  I am really in favor of home grown food. I am not much of a gardener myself anymore but I try to support the local produce stands, and we don’t eat much meat in our household.Love potatoes. They are my comfort food….and they are such fun to harvest!

  4. I love potatoes.  I’ve never grown them, but we used to love to dig them when my parents retired to the country and had a big garden.     Our favorites were the red skinned kind.    Mama would go out before it was time to dig them and grub the tiny ones out of the ground to cook with a white cream sauce over them.    Or else  cook them with Kentucky Wonder green beans.   Oh man.

  5. Well I’ve not dug potatoes that I recall but while living in Maine we took our kids out and worked the potato harvest for awhile. What an experience.I don’t think the yogurt I just ate has corn syrup in it. But I threw the outer cardboard away. You should of seen the weird page that came up when I went to comment. Wouldn’t let me.

  6. I make it a rule to never inquire to closely or think too hard about what I’m eating.  I hate to spoil my appetite.I’m not such a big potato fan, but I like corn.  Also, it’s good to know that when I eat a hamburger, I’m also eating my vegetables.

  7. Potatoes are a favorite – there are so many possibilities you could have potatoes at every meal, every day for a week (and longer) and never repeat a recipe. Our soil is too clay to grow good potatoes. Sure they can be grown, you just can’t get them out.

  8. See, that’s why I HAVEN’T read that book. I can only handle so much change at one time.  Right now the changes I am dealing with include: crawling, potty-training, different roles at church and selling rental properties. I don’t think I can manage any extra issues with all the food I eat.  Okay, I’m lazy, but maybe that’s because I’m corn-fed.  I liked your post about not understanding how a preacher could ask people to pray for Obama to fail. I don’t understand that either. I would also argue with my (less enlighted (-: ) Christian brethren that the ideals of the democratic party are much more in line with what Jesus preached, specifically caring for widows and orphans (social programs, anyone??).  Also, perhaps this particular preacher needs to read all those passages about supporting your government that are in the New Testament (passages I have some issues with, but this guy seems like a hardliner, if he’s anything like the Obama-haters I know).  It’s infurating that somehow the Christian church and the Republicans got so tied up together. There’s a whole lotta blogging on that topic, but I bet it’s already been done from many angles.Hey, I read that Inkheart/spell/death series. The first book was not very good, but the rest were much better.  I like reading suggestions from pre-teens! (-: Oh, and I never had to sit in a circle and read outloud.  I wonder why we never did that? When I was in 5th grade, they had reading set up where you had a book and a packet that went with the book and you read the book and filled out the packet at your own pace. So I finished all of them about 1/2 way through the school year so they had me pick out biographies in alphabetical order and kind of summarize each chapter in a blank notebook as I read. Now that I think about it, I should have told them Shove it, I’ll read what I like because I finished your stupid assignment.  But I was and continue to be a unrepentant brown-noser, so I read and wrote with great satisfaction.

  9. I have recently discovered things about our food supply also.  After watching some documentaries and doing my own research I will only eat all natural foods.  Whether I grow it myself or buy from local organic farmers.  Sweet remedy: A poisoned world is a good documentary to watch.  And also The Future of Food and The World According to Monsanto.  There is also a book called Excitotoxins.  Good information.  Just say no to corn, MSG’s, aspartame and any other additives and chemicals.  Potatoes Rock!!

  10. This is quite the entry.  Did know most of this, or at least hadn’t thought it through.  And since I grew up in Nebraska (say hello, Cornhuskers!), you’d think I’d be a little more aware.  Huh.I’m not so fond of corn, by the way, except for straight off the cob, fresh from the garden and free of junk that I don’t need.  And giving up that junk gets easier all the time, I’m thinking.

  11. Hansen’s Soda recently switched out HFCS with cane sugar. I like the grapefruit flavor.I also hate farm subsidies.corn feed…ugh. Aren’t cows and chickens supposed to eat…. grass?

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