Thursday, February 5, 2015


I did something extraordinary the other day. I ate a bag of popcorn. The whole bag. For those that are reading this and going 0_o?, let me explain. Since 2011, I have not been able to have corn. At all. The slightest bit of corn syrup could make me sick. I sometimes ended up in hives for days. Other times, it would be stomach aches so bad that I could not stand up due to the twisting of the muscles and the feeling of sandpaper going through my gut. There was little rhyme or reason as to what would happen, but one thing was very certain, I was allergic to corn.

Technically, I still am. So how am I able to eat an entire bag of popcorn without looking like I have the chicken pox, measles, and the stomach flu rolled into one? Easy - it's GMO corn I'm allergic to.

My Dad told me a few weeks ago about an article he read. In that article, scientists seem to think the reason for the sudden increase in corn allergies may be due to genetically modified organisms or GMOs. There are a LOT of GMO corn based products in the market - each genetically altered to different degrees. This would explain why sometimes corn seemed to not affect me at all and other times leave me with hives and bruises for weeks - different genetic structures would affect me differently.

Deciding to take this on and see if I can have regular, good, old fashioned non-gmo corn, I began to eat waffles every day for two weeks. The waffles have non-gmo corn starch in them. If the corn starch would affect me, I'd see symptoms within 2 hours. The symptoms would get worse over the course of 24 hours (as the corn went through my digestive system).

...Nothing. Nothing but yummy waffle goodness (with vegan butter and maple syrup!). I'd have at least two waffles everyday (and yeah, they are the toaster kind) for two weeks.

After realizing that, hey, I feel fine! I decided it was time to step up this challenge. That's where the popcorn came in.

Before, one piece of popcorn has been known to make me ill for a good 24 hours. This time, I went to the organic market and found some reasonably priced microwave non-gmo popcorn. I greedily waited for the popcorn to finish popping in the microwave - a sound I hadn't heard in close to four years - and tried one piece. And waited. I had to wait the full two hours before eating another piece just in case the waffle thing was a fluke (ie, there wasn't enough corn starch in the waffle to trigger a reaction). So, while the aroma of wonderful fresh popped popcorn permeated the air of my house, I waited. And nothing. Absolutely nothing. I felt perfectly fine after two hours.

So I did what any reasonable thinking person would do who hadn't had the taste of popcorn in years - poured the butter flavored olive oil and some salt on the rest of the popcorn bag and gobbled it down. :-) It was good.

Now, I know I'm still allergic to gmo corn because I had a reaction to just one sip of something with corn syrup in it over the weekend. Many of the additives like corn syrup and dextrose are made from gmo corn, while, I'm finding out now, that the corn I can buy at the roadside is typically non-gmo. (Could have used this information a few years ago.....)

So what does this all mean other than my amazing ability to now eat popcorn again? I can also have pudding again! There are several vegan puddings (darn dairy allergy!) but they all use corn starch in them. However, many of them use organic or non-gmo corn starch. This means, the second the organic market is open, I'm buying a bunch of either butterscotch or chocolate or both pudding cups and gobbling them down. Because I can.

Although I'll still have to read labels, I now have alternatives and don't have to simply forgo corn altogether. The alternatives are pretty easy to find as well (anything labeled organic should be non-gmo but it's not 100% certain. While anything labeled non-gmo absolutely is 100% gmo free). Pudding, corn chips, popcorn, and my favorite food that was ridiculously hard to give up on succotash (laugh all you want, I seriously missed corn with lima beans) are all back on the table for me!


  1. Congrats on being able to overcome the popcorn test!

    I myself have been in your shoes. Back in 2006, I found out that I was highly allergic to gluten, and have been on a GF diet ever since. The trail and errors on what was ok to eat were horrific, (but I'm glad to know now that there are now more options and varieties), and pretty much to this day, I still have to check the ingredients on everything that I eat.

    I am very happy for you, that wish you all the luck in the world, in finding more non-GMO corn products that will work for you.

    1. There are some studies that show the gluten thing might be a GMO problem as well (which is why the huge increase in people with reactions to gluten in the past ten years). It's not fun to test these because of the possible bad outcomes, but being able to eat *something* is well worth it.

      Let me know next time you are coming to an event I'm at. I know a couple of GF recipes and would be happy to make some GF chocolate cake or GF cookies - or just bring some yummy GF crackers.