Corn tortillas: not as tasty anymore. Corn tortillas: not as tasty anymore.

‘Tasteless’ tortillas hurting consumption

They've lost their flavour, texture, says businessman out to rescue the culinary icon

Nobody likes a tasteless tortilla and one man is on a mission to make sure that nobody has to eat one.

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Tortilla consumption has fallen 40% over the past 30 years because they have “lost their flavor and texture,” claims Rafael Mier, a businessman and corn promoter.

Mier is determined to rescue consumption of the national culinary icon, and says that there is no reason why there can’t be a rich diversity of different tortillas and flavors.

“In Mexico, center of the origin of corn, there is not a single tortilla: there are hundreds of tortillas as there are of varieties of corn,” he said.

However, a trend towards homogenization of the tortilla and the use of inferior corn flours are to blame for their declining quality and in turn the dwindling number of people who eat the staple, he argued.

Mier explained that a traditional process called nixtamalization — in which corn is soaked and cooked in an alkaline solution to remove contaminants and increase nutritional value — is being lost and the quality of tortillas is deteriorating as a consequence.

“A real tortilla made with nixtamalized corn is not the same as a commercial tortilla made with industrialized, low-quality corn flour with conservatives and additives,” he said.

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In Mexico, there are more than 2.5 million people who cultivate corn, around 80,000 tortillerías (tortilla shops), 15,000 convenience stores, 5,800 supermarkets and “none sell nixtamalized tortillas,” Mier complained.

The corn enthusiast also said that other popular Mexican dishes such as chilaquiles, tostadas, enchiladas and tacos used tortillas as an “invisible ingredient” and consumers don’t pay attention to their “image, quality and flavor,” leading to further negative economic, cultural and health consequences.

In addition, government authorities don’t keep records of who is cultivating what kinds of corn in the country, Mier said, implying that if they did, it would encourage the production of a greater diversity of tortillas and help restore their position at the apex of Mexico’s culinary culture.

In contrast to Mexico, Mier said that tortilla sales in the United States are on the rise and argued that if Mexico is to reverse the declining trend here, people need to elevate what many see as a humble staple to a product of near sacred significance.

“You have to look at the tortilla as [a part of our] national heritage in order to conserve the greatest exponent of our gastronomic culture . . . we must protect corn and the tortilla as elements of Mexican culture,” he said.

Source: Milenio (sp)

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  • el Gallinazo

    40% of corn in Mexico is imported transgenetic Monsanto corn. I wonder if that has anything to do with it?

    • Mike

      You have identified the source of the problem and its only going to get worse. large food conglomerates operate from a standing that they benefit society by offering large quantity for low price and the trade off is quality and a lack of nutrition. They care about one thing, making money.

      • Leaving the tortilla issue aside for a moment, corporations have only one purpose, and that is making money.

        • JRPetruk

          …and to make money, they have to produce a product that people will buy. Generally, that requires a modicum of quality. Interesting that the article doesn’t quote Mr. Mier blaming GMO corn for the taste deficiency. I doubt that the common consumer can tell the difference between GMO and natural corn processed in the same manner for tortillas.

          • David Nichols

            True enough…! Especially considering that all today’s corn is GMO, the only difference is some of the modifications took years of selective breeding of hybrids, and current practice allows the mods to be done in a lab–sin embargo they have all been genetically modified since corn was just a grass…!

          • el Gallinazo

            There is a huge difference between selective breeding of traits found within a species and GMO, where genes from totally different organisms, in the case of corn a bacteria, are spliced in producing a chimera. However this misunderstanding is unfortunately common.

          • David Nichols

            No misunderstanding here, it is a distinction without a difference insofar as your consumption is concerned…these GMO’s are incorporated to affect yield, resistance to disease, mouth feel and flavor…
            The ” chicken littles” who fear this technology are the people who misunderstand…
            Lots of fear mongering out there, but absolutely no facts that prove these GMO’s are any threat to consumers…an to the contrary, plenty of evidence that they accomplish their goal of more food for more people at less cost…

          • Jack Williams

            Whether we like it or not, right? It’s for control of the food supply and therefore, the $. Bashing people who give a rat’s ass about their food is a weapon in your arsenal, eh?

          • David Nichols

            No bashing involved here Jack, you’re free to remain fearful and ignorant of GMO foods, and go ahead and include your conspiracy theory regarding “control of the food supply” in your psychosis…it’s of absolutely no importance to me or the worlds food supply…

          • Jack Williams

            No secret that Monsanto, Cargill et al want money and control in every country of the world. It’s not a conspiracy theory, rather a factual matter.

          • David Nichols

            Of course they want money, they are corporations, with stockholders who expect a return on their investment…Do you have a 401k..?
            Corporations exist to make money—if they don’t, we are not able to buy the products they were producing…
            Only a full blown Socialist/Communist would object to corporations seeking profit by increasing their market penetration…it takes AgriBusiness on a huge scale to feed the billions of the world who have no way to grow their own food…perhaps you would prefer they starve?

    • Patrick Ingalls

      Actually, they are using Monsanto products with different names down here. It is rampant.

    • JRPetruk

      You mean “transgenic”. And all that means is that a bacteria (Bt) that used to be sprayed on corn (and I mean corn FDA recognized as “organic”) is now in the seed. The only realistic fear of this method is that someday the bacteria will fail in its purpose of preventing corn diseases. GMA seed corn cannot be legally obtained or planted in Mexico. I could go on, but the situation is well covered in this article. The taste of GMA corn is not the reason for the reduction of tortilla purchases in Mexico. It’s the lack of a lime bath (nixtamalization) and traditional cooking.

  • Güerito

    The real difference in tortillas is hand made tortillas de comal, which are still fantastic, and the machine made tortillas that taste like cardboard. The problem is that it’s getting harder to find true hand made tortillas de comal. It’s hard work making them and it seems very few want to do it anymore.

  • DreadFool

    Tortillas y Libertad!

  • Garry Montgomery

    If the population has increased yet tortilla consumption has dropped there can only be one reason . . . Bimbo! And that’s why Mexico and the U.S.A. battle it out each year to claim “The Fattest Country” award.

    • BB

      Lol! Yeah, one key ingredient in avoiding that fat accumulation is staying away from corn and other GMO products.

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