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Monday, April 15, 2013

HOMINY ALERT



I've posted about how it is hard it is to determine the real nutritional data for foods before. (Here is a past article about dueling labels on dairy products: http://carbwars.blogspot.com/2009/09/when-does-16-x-049-zero.html.) I do my best to check things out to be sure my information is correct, and I contact the companies if there is any question, just to be sure. When I first noticed that the net carb count on Mexican Style hominy was significantly lower than that for regular hominy (4 net in a 1/2 cup serving versus about 20 for regular hominy), I was skeptical. I called the company and was assured that they had actually tested the product and the counts were accurate. As a result, I included a few hominy recipes in a chapter about corn in my first book, Carb Wars, as well as some that used an heirloom variety of Iroquois white corn that was being grown, harvested, and ground by hand by native Americans in New York state. Iroquis white corn is a flint variety (zea mays indurate), so less starchy than other kinds. Tragically, the tribal leader who started the co-operative, John Mohawk, died suddenly just when Carb Wars came out, and his company, Pinewood Products, went out of business. (Some of the people involved with the project still tell me that they hope to eventually have this corn for sale again.)

The hominy recipes have been among the most popular ones in Carb Wars. Although I don't routinely check my blood glucose levels, some of my recipe testers do, and I also heard from others who reported that Juanita's and Teasdale's Mexican Style hominy did not spike their blood sugar. It seemed reasonable that turning corn into hominy could affect its starch content. It is made by a process called nixtamalization, in which the corn is dried and then soaked in a lye solution that removes the germ and outer shell and causes the kernel to puff up, much like popcorn, which would affect its volume. I also included a few recipes in Nourished, although I am cutting down on all grains now.

When a reader contacted me and expressed doubt about the low carb count for hominy, I got in touch with Juanita's again to double check and was again told that the numbers were correct. The reader followed up and began her own dialog with the folks at Juanita's and finally convinced them to run a new analysis of the product. It turns out that the original tests were conducted 60 years ago. The new label, below, reflects the results of the new analysis:

New label from Juanita's Hominy can, on current website.
 
This is the label from Teasdale's Mexican Style hominy, which shows the same data as the old Juanita's can:
 
Label on Teasdale's Hominy can, currently on website.
 
Two reps from Juanita's called me to give me notice that their label was going to change, but asked me not to mention it until it actually happened. They were very apologetic and even offered to have the company chef contact me to help with recipe development. Thank you, Suzanne B, for your persistence is pursuing the truth and kudos to Juanita's for stepping up to correct their error. 
 
So what can we conclude from all this? As I've said before, nutrition data is soft science at best, and we have to consider all of it as nothing more than a rough estimate. It may be that my recipes include enough fat and protein to offset the effect of the carbs. However, I suspect that modern corn may be very different from the corn that was tested 60 years ago. Dr. Davis's book, Wheat Belly, makes the case that wheat is a totally new plant thanks to genetic tinkering, and corn has likely been altered as much or more than wheat.
 
What do you think? Have you been able to eat Mexican Style hominy without  negative repercussions? Do you react to it as if it were 4 net carbs per serving or 16? 
 
(C) 2013Judy Barnes Baker, www.carbwars.blogspot.com  



26 comments:

Cheapside said...

Do you think the difference in the nutrition values could be the results of the modified corn over the years?

Cheapside said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Judy Barnes Baker said...

Cheapside: I think that is the most likely explanation. If we could find a source for heirloom white corn, we could learn how to make our own hominy, right?

I first learned about Iroquois white corn from a book about foods recommended as low-carb for diabetics by Gretchen Becker, so it is surely lower in carbs than modern corn or at least much lower glycemic.

DJ Foodie said...

Any word on the Teasdale brand? Is that also wildly outdated info, or can I still rely on that brand?

Ginny said...

Wow! Thanks Judy, for your work! I use Juanita's hominy in several recipes. I did notice more of a rise in bg than I expected, but not terrible. I will check more carefully from now on.

Judy Barnes Baker said...

Hi DJ.
I'd guess that Teasdale's used the same data that Juanita's used and just haven't rechecked it lately, so I'd be wary of thinking it is really lower. I can ask them, though.

I never had a problem with eating a serving of Juanita's hominy, and 16 is still a lot lower than a regular serving of potatoes or rice. I only ate it occasionally as a treat anyway.

Maxine Fowler said...

If Hominy doesn't spike your blood sugar, I'm in :)

DJ Foodie said...

I hate to ask, Judy, but if you've got a contact at Teasdale, I'd love to know the absolute truth. It's my belief that this little kernel of knowledge is ... the final frontier. (FINGERS CROSSED!!)

Mike said...

This could be a game changer :)

Vaughn said...

This is cool!

PlantsHeal said...

Iroquois White Corn is available again. Check out http://www.iroquoiswhitecorn.org/ I would love to see nutritional value for this corn. It has not been "tinkered" with so I suspect the 60 year old Juanita values might be closer to the truth.

Judy Barnes Baker said...

Thanks for the tip, PlantsHeal! I will check it out. I hope you are right.

Judy Barnes Baker said...

Yes, Iroquois White Corn is back! I sent them an e-mail to see if they have the nutrition data for it.

TiGRe812 said...

Hi Judy! Did the Iroquis White Corn company ever email you back with their nutritional info?

Judy Barnes Baker said...

TiGRe812: I did hear back from them about the Iroquis corn, but they said they are a very small company and can't afford to get the nutrition data tests done. (They are a nonprofit group that supports the local tribes in New York.) I haven't checked again lately, but I still get e-mails from them about the center and they are still selling the corn. Their last e-mail was asking for volunteers to help harvest the corn. If I lived nearby, I'd be tempted to go.

The store is here http://www.iroquoiswhitecorn.org/shop

And the contact info for ordering or questions is here: http://www.iroquoiswhitecorn.org/contact

TiGRe812 said...

Thanks for answering! I guess if I bought some I would have to check against my meter to see if it would spike me. Besides, I don't think I'm up to trying to make hominy myself! I live in New York city so that would be quite a ride for me but I think it would definitely be a cool experience. I wish they actually sold seeds to plant.

Judy Barnes Baker said...

TiGRe812: I'll bet they could sell you some corn that could be planted unless they have already ground it all into meal. If they just harvested it this month, it should be fresh and viable. It really is the best tasting corn I've ever had. (The Iroquois corn, that is, not the Juanita's!)

TiGRe812 said...

Sounds like a good idea. Maybe I'll check out that option with them next season; I've never actually grown corn and would have to research the best way to do it in my yard; thanks for the suggestion! Unfortunately, I am dealing with a really arthritic hip right now in addition to a full time job and don't want to take on any more gardening. It is pretty intriguing to know that they have been continuously cultivating this corn for over 1400 years!

TiGRe812 said...

Update: I just emailed them about seeds anyway...lol!

Judy Barnes Baker said...

TiGRe812; Let us know if you get seeds! That would be cool. I probably can't grow corn here, but lots of people could grow their own. There are also companies that sell old seed varieties that might have it.

TiGRe812 said...

Well, I heard back from them. This is what they said:

"Hi Barbara,

Thanks for your interest in our seeds. As it is tradition, we only share seeds at seed sharing Haudenosaunee (Iroquois) gatherings. This helps ensure the integrity of our seeds.

There are other native corn seeds sold online. I can't speak to their authenticity, but it might be an option for you.

Best of luck on your garden!

Nia:wen, Thank You,

Kim General Morf, Mohawk/Cayuga
Project Manager
Iroquois White Corn Project
email: whitecornproject@gmail.com
website: http://iroquoiswhitecorn.com
(585) 742-1361"

Kind of makes sense, but disappointing nonetheless. I've been looking for other sources of ancient corn; I think it's cool. In the meantime, isn't the hulled corn they sell a dehydrated version of hominy? I've never eaten the stuff, so I'm clueless :/

Judy Barnes Baker said...

RoGRe812; I guess they have to be very careful because nearly all the corn in the world is now GMO and it would be hard to keep it from cross pollinating.

Hominy is corn that has been treated with lime to remove the hulls. That was the traditional way to do it, but I don't know if there is any other way. I know they harvest and grind their corn my hand, so I'm sure they would use an old way to hull it too. The reason this kind of corn was not used commercially was because it couldn't be harvested by machines.

TiGRe812 said...

Sometime soon I'm going to buy some and try it to see if it will spike me. It would be great if it didn't, but I haven't had luck with grains for quite some time even though I've been pretty strict low carb for years. I've also had trouble with my weight, despite having kept 60 pounds off for some time. I still need to lose another 80 to 90 pounds so something like this will be in the plans for maintenance anyway. Thanks for the advice!

Judy Barnes Baker said...

TiGRe812: I first learned about Iroquois corn from one of Gretchen Becker's books. She is the diabetes expert who recommends a low-carb diet, so perhaps this corn is safer for those with blood sugar issues. She also suggested tepary beans, grown my the native Americans in the SW.

Please report back on your results after you've tried the corn.

TiGRe812 said...

After reading a couple of posts on David Mendosa's blog some time ago I tried both hullless barley and chana dal with mixed results. I would no longer eat the barley because of the gluten, but I enjoyed chana dal, although I have trouble keeping the portions small. I would imagine I'd have a similar problem with the corn; quinoa is another one I can go overboard with and cause a spike :(

Judy Barnes Baker said...

"Eat to the meter," is the number one rule for blood sugar control. The only thing that matters is your own reaction, which is more important than the number of carbs or the glycemic rank. There does seem to be something special about chana dal for most people though. It makes no sense that it would be different from chick peas, but it is.

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