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.

Source

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!
Disclosure: cmp.ly/4 and cmp.ly/5
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!

Disclosure: cmp.ly/4 and cmp.ly/5

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{ 19 comments… read them below or add one }

Lisa March 19, 2008 at 9:57 AM

That meal sounds delicious. Too bad you weren’t able to find some non-GMO masa harina locally.

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Adrian Belshaw May 1, 2009 at 10:30 PM

I’m not sure that organic masa harina is technically possible. There are 2 ingredients to the masa: the corn, which can easily be organic, and the lime. Lime is obtained by kilning limestone — a chemical process, even if it is ancient and low-tech.

I have read that one can make masa by soaking the corn in wood ash (apparently one needs a very strong base). The only time I tried it, it worked not at all.

I would be very happy to get a home recipe for masa, or to find a truly organic supply.

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cheeseslave May 3, 2009 at 5:15 AM

Lime may be chemical but it is not genetically modified as far as I know.

Here is my recipe for homemade masa:

http://www.cheeseslave.com/2008/08/03/homemade-corn-tortillas-part-one/

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LeahS July 11, 2011 at 10:53 AM

thank you for posting that. I want to try it

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Bonny October 21, 2009 at 12:03 AM

Hi CheeseSlave-
I tried to do some research of my own regarding on Maseca being owned by ADM, (gross I can’t believe it!) but couldn’t find anything supporting that. Problem is, a fantastic local restaurant uses that product, and I need supporting evidence to stop the owners from making this terrible mistake- Where is the proof?
By the way- a fabulous company called Purcell mountain Farms (http://www.purcellmountainfarms.com/) out if Idaho does sell and ship wonderful masa harina, that is non-GMO.
I am still waiting to hear back if it is organic, most of their products are, so I am hoping it may be along the same lines.

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cheeseslave October 21, 2009 at 10:03 AM

Bonny -

I should have written that more carefully. When I first started blogging (and this post is old), I wasn’t as careful as I am now.

The Maseca brand is owned by GRUMA, which is *partially*, not wholly owned by ADM.

GRUMA now controls 70 percent of Mexico’s corn-flour market. As NAFTA opened the Mexican market to cheap, highly subsidized U.S. corn and dismantled Mexico’s support for its farmers, the price of corn in Mexico plunged, providing a windfall for GRUMA and despair for Mexican corn growers. Maseca now imports 30 percent of its corn for tortilla production from the United States, according to an Oxfam report [PDF].

http://www.organicconsumers.org/articles/article_2372.cfm

Archer Daniels Midland, the leading U.S. ethanol maker and the world’s biggest grain buyer, owns a 27 percent stake in Gruma, Mexico’s dominant tortilla maker. ADM also owns a 40 percent share in a joint venture with Gruma to mill and refine wheat — meaning that when Mexican consumers are forced by high tortilla prices to switch to white bread, Gruma and ADM still win.

http://www.grist.org/article/tortillas/

I don’t find anything that says that Maseca is genetically modified, but I don’t see anything that says it isn’t. Of course, they do not have to label GM foods. If it doesn’t say organic, it can be genetically modified.

Now, considering that 30% of the corn GRUMA is using is imported from the US, it’s not likely that that corn is organic and non-GMO.

Acc. to Wikipedia, 60% of corn in America is genetically modified.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Genetically_modified_food

So, I don’t have proof that Maseca is GM, but I am very suspect and I don’t think it’s a safe source.

And — look at this:

http://www.organicconsumers.org/ge/starlink300.cfm

GRUMA did have to recall many of their Mission Foods products because they were using StarLink corn (GM corn) which had not yet been approved.

Thank you for the link to Purcell Mountain Farms. They look great!

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Heather December 12, 2009 at 4:27 PM

You can get a really great organic masa online from Goldmine Natural foods http://www.goldminenaturalfoods.com/searchprods.asp

They even have the choice of yellow, white or blue corn masa. The masa from Purcell Mountain Farms is not organic — I checked before I finally found the masa at Goldmine.

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Jacqui April 16, 2010 at 4:01 PM

Hi,
I share your love for corn tortillas made the right way, and thanks for that great recipe on how to make your own.
I have to say though, in one of your posts, you said Bob’s Red Mill Masa Harina is organic, and it is not. Only SOME of their products are organic, and it will say on the bag.

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cheeseslave April 16, 2010 at 6:10 PM

Thanks Jacqui! If you could let me know which post that was I will change it.

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Alisue July 6, 2011 at 12:27 PM

Sounds yummy! I watched King Corn and wow…knowledge is power!

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jpatti September 27, 2011 at 12:47 PM

I don’t see any organic masa harina at Bob’s Red Mill site.

They have organic corn meal and organic corn flour, but not masa.

If it doesn’t say organic or non-gmo on the package, I think you have to assume gmo corn.

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Carol March 17, 2012 at 10:39 AM

There is no organic masa harina, because of the lime. And last time I did research, Maseca was no longer using gmo corn.

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Patricia April 2, 2012 at 7:57 AM

Just to put my two cents in here late in the game. I called Bob’s and they told me over a year ago that they can’t really guarantee no gmo corn gets into their products because corn pollen is everywhere. Also, my husband went to Maseca in Evansville, In for an interview for supervisor there. He asked about their use of gmo and they kind of chuckled and said, “We use whatever we can get”! There are some hidden valleys still in Mexico where non-gmo is grown, but it is almost impossible to buy any real guaranteed non-gmo corn, it’s just too prevalent.

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Jerry Greene August 1, 2013 at 2:35 PM

I operate a small tortilleria in Telluride, CO. We use organic masa from Minsa corporation. Their main US facility is in Muleshoe, Texas. They do not sell the organic masa at retail. It has not been easy maintaining a supply line, but our sales are growing. Our products are available at grocery stores in Telluride, Ridgway and at Natural Grocers (Vitamin Cottage) in Montrose, Colorado, and at our sister business, Baked in Telluride. They are used as well at La Cocina de Luz restaurant in Telluride. We also make organic flour tortillas, 15% whole wheat and 100% whole wheat. Both the Corn and Wheat flour tortillas are very tasty, if I may say so. At this point they are not available except at our tortileria and at our grocery outlets

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Donna Hatch August 26, 2013 at 8:32 AM

The pesticide IS inside the GMO corn. It is designed to blow up the stomach of the bug that eats it which instantly kills the bug. It does the same thing to us–it doesn’t kill us right away, it just blows little holes in our stomachs which will kill us slowly.

I’m discouraged to learn that non even Bob’s Red Mill is truly non GMO. I will check out Goldmine Natural foods. Thanks for the link.

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Candace October 13, 2013 at 1:04 PM

Has anyone found a truly organic and non GMO corn masa harina? Is Goldmine Natural Foods the sole source? Has the non GMO aspect been verified? Thanks.

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Jerry Greene October 13, 2013 at 2:29 PM

Candace: Did you read my post about my organic corn tortillas (Torts of Telluride)? Sad to say for most of you, but happily for my regular customers, we use no preservatives so the organic corn tortillas are perishable, and must be kept under refrigeration. They don’t freeze well, either, and are best purchased fresh from our shop at the base of Telluride’s Coonskin Ski Lift.

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lra October 20, 2013 at 4:37 PM

Bob’s Red Mill Masa Harina is not organic but all of their products are non GMO. They use identity preserved, non GMO seeds. They will not guarantee the complete absence of GMO’s because of wind drift, pollinators and lack of testing equipment. Sounds like an honest & fair statement to me.

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RRR January 7, 2014 at 9:24 AM

Exactly. Where I grew up, most folks had gardens. If you planted yellow corn and your neighbor planted white corn and they both tasseled at the same time … you often got ears of yellow corn with scattered white kernels … you can’t stop the wind and bees.

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