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Corn found in 75% of your grocery store

12:14 PM, Jul 16, 2012   |    comments
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GRAND RAPIDS (WZZM) - The worst drought since 1988 has sent corn prices skyrocketing; they've climbed about 38 percent since June 1.

That will impact food prices, because corn is found in hundreds of items, like pop, bread, and even ice cream.

Michigan corn growers generated $1.5 billion last year, according to Michigan Corn Growers Assocation Executive Director Jim Zook.
So where do all the kernels go?

Zook says 38 percent are shipped out of Michigan, 20 percent go to feed for livestock, 27 percent of corn is turned into ethanol, eight percent is surplus, and seven percent goes towards other uses - like packing peanuts.

You might be surpised to find out how much corn - after it's processed - ends up in your grocery cart.

As soon as you walk into Plumb's Valu-Rite Foods in Grand Rapids, you'll find flavored water, cinammon rolls, and barbecue sauce all within 20 feet.  They're three items made with corn. The water is flavored with sucralose.

Walk a little further, and you'll find blue cheese dressing, corn tortillas, and even Bacon n' Pieces, made with corn maltodextrin.

Your pizza's cheese comes from the cow that eats the corn, and you know where the pepperoni and sausage likewise comes from.

In fact, 75 percent of what's found in the grocery store comes from the little yellow kernels, according to Allendale farmer Rick Sietsema. He grows thousands of those stalks in fields that are quickly deteriorating.  He'll have to buy corn from someone else to feed the poultry and swine on his 12 farms, just as prices are skyrocketing.

"So I have to buy another 50 weeks of corn, and the difference between $6 and $7.50, $8 corn is in excess of $10 million," said Sietsema.

That will soon start to trickle down to you, the consumer at the grocery store.  The USDA predicts that piece of steak at the meat counter could soon cost 10 percent more.

"If I need it for livestock, Hudsonville Ice Cream needs it to create sucralose for sugars and sweetners for their ice cream, and the ethanol industry needs it to put in our gas tanks, we're all going to need it and want it," he said.

Don't forget the pharmaceutical companies; they want the corn's starch to create drugs and the syrup to stick in DayQuil. And speaking of ethanol, you can find corn ethanol in many environmentally green household cleaners.

Once you pick up St. Ive's face cream - made of corn meal - and one form of Gerbers infant formula, you'll find it's easy to fill the entire cart, before you actually pick up the corn cobs.

One of the biggest uses of corn products is high fructose corn syrup.  The USDA predicts food prices will rise about 3.5 percent by the end of the year.

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