December 12, 2013

December Corn Product Spotlight: Packing Peanuts

With the holiday season here shopping is on everyone’s mind. Whether or not it’s that new TV you’ve had your eye on, or the sweet treats that you plan on sending to your sister out west, there is one thing that will be used to keep most of our precious gifts safe. That one thing is packing peanuts.

Now, packing peanuts might not be your favorite part of the holidays but most children seem to enjoy them. I can still remember as a young child, dumping the box of packing peanuts out all over the tile floor and either stepping on them or ripping the peanuts into shreds. A big box of packing peanuts could keep me entertained for at least half an hour. As I sit here and think back on my younger years I realized that I didn’t even know corn was the main ingredient in those fun little toys.

In the early 1990s the starch-based packing peanuts that are used today were developed as a more environmentally friendly option compared to the regular foam packing peanuts. Even though the first biodegradable packing peanuts were made from grain sorghum the majority of starch-based packing peanuts are now made from corn. This means that even though the peanuts are not recommended for eating, they are nontoxic if ingested. Also during the manufacturing process all the nutritional value is removed from the starch so eating starch-based packing peanuts will not help you meet your daily carbohydrate intake.

Sadly, there are some drawbacks to this product. The starch-based packing peanuts are more expensive to use and they don’t hold up as well when dealing with large weights. But they can be broken down with water, so instead of having to throw them away, you can simply wash them down your sink!

So next time your kid takes a bite out of a starch-based packing peanut, you can feel safe that they didn’t just eat a toxic substance and you can relax and let them entertain themselves with the packing peanuts, instead of the gift you just spent your Christmas bonus on!

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