Michael Pollan – Chapter 5: The Processing Plant


– 10 billion bushels of corn harvested each year
– Corn is processed in meats, soft drinks, breakfast cereals, snacks
– Corn – yellow skin will be processed into various vitamins/nutritional supplements, tiny germ (dark part near the cob, holds the embryo of the potential future corn plant) will be crushed for its oil, the endosperm will be plundered for is rich cache of complex carbs
– Companies to wet mill most of America’s corn – Cargill and ADM
– Wet Mill – industrial version of digestion, food is broken down through multiple steps (physical pressure, acids, enzymes)
– Mill Starch – what is left after the germ has been removed and the kernels crushed
– High Fructose Cory Syrup – 55% fructose, 45% glucose


Everyone is personally responsible for consuming a ton of corn each year, yet only a bushel of it comes from eating actual corn. The rest of what we don’t eat as pure corn is consumed after being processed and reassembled as beef, chicken, cereal, soft drinks, and snacks. Science has figured out a million and one ways fro kernels of corns to become what we eat everyday. “Wet mills” break corn down into smaller building blocks for companies like General Mills and McDonald’s to manufacture selling products. The wet milling process is simply a complex food being reduced to simple molecules, mostly sugars. Pollen goes through the deconstruction of corn, right down to its chemical parts. The whole breakdown at this point of the article was very scientific, but personally gave me the heeby-jeebys! To think that all of these oils, acids, etc. can come from a tiny kernel of corn.

It’s amazing all the things science has developed from corn, and what’s more amazing is the failed attempts it’s made getting to where we are today. Scientists are constantly coming up with new innovation from this boring crop. Corn is taking over and is impossible to avoid. After hearing about every component of corn that is used to make the things we eat, I’m convinced nothing is real anymore!


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