Genetically Modified Masa Harina

by Ann Marie Michaels on March 18, 2008

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Yensi cooked us some Guatemalan food for dinner. It was SO GOOD!

We had:

Chicken sauteed in butter with grilled onions and red bell pepper (I added some salsa on top)
Brown rice cooked with chicken broth, chopped carrots and red bell pepper
Black beans with avocado slices and a dollop of yogurt “cream cheese” (yogurt curds without the whey — I used this in place of sour cream)
Salad with red leaf lettuce, strawberries and blood oranges (all from our CSA box) with vinaigrette

We are drinking a very yummy biodynamic (organic) wine I found at Whole Foods called Côtes du Lubéron Blanc Château La Canorgue.

I put the dry black beans in a saucepan (with a lid) last night. I covered them with filtered water and added a couple of TBS of whey (homemade, from yogurt). They soaked for about 17 or 18 hours before she cooked them. We also soaked the rice all day.

Yensi wanted to make homemade tortillas, but we couldn’t find organic (non-GMO) masa harina. I called six stores!

Masa harina is basically pre-soaked corn meal. They soak it in lime water. This is the traditional method Yensi said they use in Guatemala. They soak the cornmeal (which they grind fresh) in lime water for two weeks.

Sally Fallon says in Nourishing Traditions
that it’s best to make masa harina from scratch, because the masa harina you buy in the store is usually rancid (like most flour — it goes rancid quickly after grinding). Maybe we will get to that one day. In the meantime, the organic masa harina will have to do.

Yensi said has been been buying the Maseca brand of masa harina that she gets at her local store. Problem is, we looked it up and it’s not only not organic, but it is also genetically modified. They publicly denied that their products used genetically modified ingredients a few years back, but I know that is bullshit because they are owned by Archer Daniels Midland, makers of that shitty inedible “GE (genetically engineered) corn”.

I’m sure Maseca was a good company at one time, and they probably made good products. But big agribusiness corporations ruin everything they touch.

In the movie “King Corn” (see it if you haven’t), they tried to eat some of the genetically engineered corn they grew — they spit it out it was so bad. This corn is designed to be used for high fructose corn syrup. They make it by soaking the inedible corn in battery acid.

Yep, here we go:

Longstanding Mexican government regulation of corn supply and prices, support for small corn growers, and price subsidies for corn tortillas for Mexican consumers have been eliminated, all at the behest of Cargill, ADM, and ADM’s powerful Mexican partner, Gruma/Maseca. The end result of this globalization process is that small and medium-sized farmers, both North and South of the border, can’t make a living, while ADM and Cargill (and their preferred customers such as McDonald’s, Wal-Mart, Tyson, Smithfield) make a killing. Meanwhile, consumers, who have been promised that Free Trade would result in lower prices, are paying more for food every year. Corn tortillas, the main staple of the Mexican diet, have risen in price 300% since NAFTA came into effect.


I was trying to explain to Yensi why the Maseca masa harina is bad. Try to explain “genetically modified” to someone for whom English is their second language. I basically said that not only is it not organic, but that the pesticide is actually INSIDE the corn. Not exactly true, and a very simplistic way of explaining it. I tried.

Anyway, I think we’re going to order the masa harina from the Bob’s Red Mill website — then we can have tortillas next week!

That was one of the best meals I’ve had in a while. Yensi is a fabulous cook!

And it was really wonderful to be able to just make the salad and not have to scurry around putting a whole meal together after I worked all day. Whew!

Yensi said she is going to put the leftover beans in the blender and then she will fry them in a skillet. Another Guatemalan specialty. I think we’ll have that Friday night with some ground beef tacos (we’ll use sprouted tortillas from Whole Foods since we can’t have homemade). Sounds great to me!

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