Corn-Free Grocery Shopping

There are some key items for which you are just going to need to find substitutions.  There are a handful of very common ingredients that I call the "killers" - they are very pervasive in our food system.

Ascorbic Acid
Citric Acid
Natural Flavors (unless you can verify with the company)
Vinegar (white/distilled vinegar is typically derived from corn)
Xanthan gum

Most people think citric acid comes from.....citrus!  Not for industrial purposes, and it is everywhere!

Here's a useful shopping tip:  Read the ingredient list from the bottom; you'll generally find any culprits faster that way!

The above ingredients are just the most common ingredients I find.  You can find a much more complete list of ingredients derived from corn here.   I strongly suggest printing this list and famliarizing yourself with it.  When you go shopping, have your phone on hand for quick phone calls to companies with products in question.  


Say "goodbye" to these guys for the most part:
Salad Dressing (make it yourself - no Good Seasons or Ranch packets either!)
Any bottled sauces (BBQ)
Chocolate Syrup (It's SO easy to make.  Check out

I have not found any acceptable substitutes for these.  They all contain white vinegar at a minimum, and dressings often contain dextrose and or high fructose corn syrup.  We have found that using a flavorful chicken sausage doesn't require condiments.  Try Aidell's Chicken Apple or Roasted Garlic and Gruyere Sausage.  Bilinski's also makes a good roasted red pepper and asiago, as well as a chicken apple sausage.

For the following items, options are out there, though they are limited:

Ketchup - Heinz Organic (available at BJs!!)
Mustard - Annie's Organics Honey Mustard
Jelly -  Bonne Maman, some 365 fruit spreads at Whole Foods
Syrup - use pure Maple Syrup
Vinegar - Anything but white/distilled vinegar is fine.
                 Spectrum makes an organic white vinegar distilled from beets. (9/9/13)
Oils - Avoid "Vegetable Oil" and stick with Olive Oil or Canola Oil
Salsa - Select varieties of Desert Pepper salsas are corn-free, as well as a couple of Guy Fieri salsas.
Mustard - Annie's Organics honey mustard and horseradish mustard (9/30/13)


(Depending on the sensitivity, you may need to consider grass-fed and finished meats and dairy and pastured eggs.  They are finding some people respond to the foods the animal-source consumes.  This gets really complicated.)

Flavored dairy products are notorious for containing "Natural Flavors."  This is where a lot of companies pull the "proprietary information" card, and they won't tell you what "natural flavors" means and suggest "If you are concerned, you should not consume our product."  Apparently they would rather lose customers than admit to using corn!  Some companies are totally transparent, and I love them for it!!  They may have to get back to you while they track down the information, but they DO, and often times it is good news!  

Yogurt:  I usually stick with plain Greek yogurt and sweeten it with honey and fruit.  My kids actually enjoy it, and I was bracing myself for the complaints!  You could even stir in a little jam/jelly to give it a different flavor.  Bonne Maman has some great flavors!  Chobani reported that none of their natural flavors are derived from corn.

2/11/14:  Per Chobani rep, no corn derivatives in any of the yogurt products. 

Milk:  Plain only

Almond Milk:  I have only been able to confirm that Silk Almond Milk's natural flavors do not contain corn.  

Egg substitutes - I haven't read these because we use regular eggs, but a restaurant recently told me that their "liquid eggs" have citric acid.  Good to know!

Cheese:  Time to start shredding your own!  Shredded cheese usually has cellulose in it, which I believe is an anti-caking agent.


Deli Meats:  Applegate Farms is you best bet; however, aside from the cows, their animals are fed corn as part of their vegetarian diet.  Boar's Head carries two obscure products in their all-natural line that doesn't contain injected corn ingredients.  It is hard to find, and you'll need to call them if you want to know what they are!  I can't find my notes at the moment.  I know there was a turkey option, and it was carried at a story 30 minutes from my house - not worth it for me.  Most canned tuna also has "vegetable broth," which is a no-no.

Bacon:  Applegate Farms has a safe option, but see the dairy note above about the animal source's diet.  Most commercial bacons contain either sodium erythorbate or another corn-derived ingredient.  Maple-flavored bacon often times has injected corn syrup as part of the flavoring.  You will need to look for a very clean version of bacon.

  • Aidell's Chicken Sausages - Chicken and Apple, Roasted Garlic and Gruyere, or Andouille
  • Bilinski's Chicken Sausages - Roasted Red Pepper and Asiago

Tuna:  Bumble Bee Very Low Sodium Tuna in water is the only one I have found without vegetable broth.

Turkey:  House of Raeford frozen young turkey breast:  Natural Flavor is rosemary and black pepper.  No corn per Quality Control on 10/7/13.

So - you are probably wondering what my options are.  Well, they aren't meat-based.  For lunches around here, we try to rotate through the following as main dishes/proteins at lunch:

Nut butters on crackers, bread or rice cakes
Hard-boiled eggs
Yogurt Parfaits (more on that in another section)
Homemade Larabars 
Homemade Hummus (with apple slices, carrots, cucumbers, red pepper strips, crackers/pretzels)
Homemade Whole Grain Muffins


You are going to need to locate a good bakery, my go to source is Great Harvest Bread Company.  There is a another French bakery nearby, but for daily use, I like Great Harvest...a LOT!

Great Harvest breads (Most are okay, and they are super nice about looking up ingredients.)

Food For Life Ezekiel breads have a few corn free options, but that is the only bread I have found in a grocery store that works.  You will find it in the freezer section.  They also have tortillas, but I haven't found them yet.

Rustic Crust pizza crust  (Fresh Market)

OR, you can be super awesome and make your own bread!!  (I'm not past pizza crust yet.)


Erewhon Rice Crisps or Honey Rice Crisps (Whole Foods, Earth Fare)
Kashi Strawberry Fields Cereal
Kashi Cinnamon Harvest Cereal
Steel Cut Oatmeal
Great Harvest Bread Co. Cranberry Almond  Oatmeal

Kodiak pancake mix (Target)

Tinkyada Brown Rice Noodles
Barilla Multigrain or Plus noodles

Canned Goods

Beans:  Most canned beans are safe (not baked beans though!)  We're talking black beans, pinto beans, kidney beans.  Avoid anything with flavorings

Tomatoes:  Almost all canned tomato products have citric acid as a preservative.  Look for:
  • Dei Fratelli boxes, Pomi boxes
  • Earth Fare Organics
  • Eden Organics
  • Cento 
Tomato/Marinara Sauce
  • Rao's Marinara or Tomato Basil
  • Bertolli All Natural Marinara or Tomato Basil
Broths:  Pacific Natural Broths are okay

Seasonings, Spices and Sweeteners

Generally speaking, single-ingredient, dried herbs are fine.

Be wary of spice blends or seasonings.

I haven't researched spice/seasoning packets because I don't use them, but I would look carefully for dextrose or citric acid.  

Stick with olive oil, canola or grapeseed oils for cooking.

White distilled vinegar is derived from corn.  Go for it with balsamics, wine based or cider vinegar.  On 9/9/13, I found an organic white vinegar made by Spectrum that is distilled from beets.

Harris Teeter Organic Powdered Sugar contains tapioca starch in lieu of corn starch  (9/9/13)


You'd think this would be easy right? Wrong. Nearly all juice has citric acid in it.  

Simply Orange Juice (no additional flavors like tangerine or pineapple!!  Just the pure stuff!)
Simply Apple Juice

Tropicana 100% Orange Juice (not with added calcium or Vitamin D.)

Earth Fare Organics 
  • Gala Apple Juice
  • Grape Juice
Lakewood Organics makes a pretty good selection of safe juices.


I have found generic, organic brands to be the most likely brand of ice cream that does not contain corn.  Vanilla is the hardest flavor because you have to confirm on the "natural vanilla flavor" before buying.  That being said, here is what I have found:

Ice Cream
Earth Fare Organics Ice Cream:  Strawberry or Chocolate  (waiting on confirmation for Vanilla)
Harris Teeter Organics Ice Cream:  Vanilla, Strawberry, Chocolate or Fudge Swirl
Whole Foods Organic 365 Brand:  Vanilla


  • UnReal brand candies (Target)
  • Chocolate Boutique (solid chocolate)
  • Yummy Earth Organic Lollipops (Earth Fare)
  • TruJoy Candy canes, they are working on making fruit chews corn free.  They currently use a corn derived product that does not contain corn protein.   Molds are made from corn starch but do not contain corn protein.  Natural Flavors are diluted in a corn based alcohol, but reportedly has no corn protein. 
  • Surf Sweets -  They currently use a corn derived product (ascorbic acid) that does not contain corn protein.  Molds are made from corn starch but (reportedly) do not contain corn protein.  Natural Flavors are diluted in a corn based alcohol, but reportedly has no corn protein. 
  • Giambri's candies
I learned to make hard candy at Christmas…it's not too hard!


Great Harvest Bread Company (varies by location….always check ingredients!!)
  • Snickerdoodles
  • Gingersnaps
  • Grandma's Chocolate Chip Cookies
La Farm Chocolate Chip Cookie

Ambrosia White Chocolate Bark (ADM foods) - artificial flavor does not contain corn derivatives per quality control on 10/7/13

Ghirardelli chocolate chips

Brownie Mix
Ghirardelli Triple Chocolate Brownie mix:  2/11/14, per Karen, an ingredient specialist confirmed that no corn derivatives are contained in the artificial flavors.  However, the mix is processed on equipment that processes corn-derived ingredients.

Great Harvest Bread Company Brownie Mix is amazing and people ALWAYS comment on how delicious they are!  You can't have the pre-made ones in the store, though.

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