What You May Not Know About Corn…

What You May Not Know About CornImage courtesy of Stoonn / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Corn is one of the world’s most popular crops. The history of corn is an amazing journey that would never have been possible without farmer intervention. If it does not grow naturally, then what do you pay for when you buy organic? How many of its 30 plus uses can you list? Did you know that popcorn was once included in meals?

More than 9000 years ago, Mexican farmers began making changes to a grass called Teosinte. They saved the seeds of their favorite plants and used them for the following year’s crops. Decades later, Teosinte had turned into Maize. This minor alteration caused a major disruption with corn’s reproduction.  The kernels wrap so tightly on the husk that the plant can no longer seed itself. Since everything in nature reproduces itself, today’s corn is technically unnatural.

All of this demonstrates that maize is not a naturally occurring food at all. Its development has been described by modern scientists as the most impressive feat of domestication and genetic modification ever undertaken. It is a complex technology developed by humans over successive generations to the point where maize was ultimately incapable of surviving on its own in the wild..” –Tom Standage

While ancient farmers altered corn to create a hybrid,  modern scientist have genetically modified it to kill insects and tolerate herbicides. According to the latest USDA report, GMO seeds yielded 85% of U.S. corn crops in 2013. Non-GMO corn crops grown within the areas of GMO crops often become tainted. In fact, China has rejected 908,800 tonnes of GMO tainted corn, in the last year.

Corn is also unhealthy...

“A maize heavy diet results in pellagra, a nutritional disease characterized by nausea, rough skin, sensitivity to light, and dementia…Fortunately, maize can be rendered safe by treating it with calcium hydroxide, in the form of ash from burned wood or crushed shells, which is either added in directly to the cooking pot, or mixed with water to create an alkaline solution in which maize is left to soak overnight…Tom Standage

So why do we choose to eat it? Is it because people are unaware of the processing involved? Or is it because it tastes so good?

Corn yields more food per plant than any other grain and over ten billion bushels are produced in America every year. Surprisingly, less than one percent is for plain corn consumption. Here’s the usage breakdown:

1. 50% = livestock feed

2. 25%= ethanol

3. 15% is exported

4. The remaining 9% contributes to: aspirin, cardboard, cat litter, charcoal briquettes, chewing gum, corn starch, corn syrup, crayons, golf tees, instant tea, ketchup, marshmallows, mayonnaise, pancake mix, shoe polish and soap.

Corn’s historical usage is even more diverse. Corn whisky treated colds, consumption, toothaches, rheumatism and arthritis. The cobs transformed into bottle stoppers, checkers, fishing floats, corncob jelly, corncob pipes, hair curlers and the fuel for smoked ham. The husks stuffed beds; as in the case of baby Abraham Lincoln. The stalks fed pigs, brewed into beer or, in Massachusetts, converted to currency.

If you ventured back in time to colonial New England, you would have been eating popcorn “cereal” with milk and maple sugar. On a dining quest in the Netherlands, you would have found popcorn in your chicken-corn soup.  Lastly, here’s the pop formula…

“Popcorn pops because when heated the internal water reaches its boiling point, vaporizes, and rapidly expands in volume, upping the pressure on both its protein matrix and the kernel’s outer hull.” – Rebecca Rupp 

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Sources:

An Edible History of Humanity, Tom Standage

How Carrots Won The War, Rebecca Rupp

The World In Your Lunchbox: The Wacky History and Weird Science of Everyday Foods, Claire Eamer

In Defense of Food, Michael Pollan

Update 1 China Rejects More U.S. Corn Due To GMO As State Sales Approach, Niu Shuping, David Stanway and Naveem Thukral

http://www.reuters.com/article/2014/03/25/china-corn-usa-idUSL4N0MM0KY20140325

The United States Department of Agriculture, A report summary from the Economic Research Service, February 2016

http://www.ers.usda.gov/data-products/adoption-of-genetically-engineered-crops-in-the-us.aspx

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3 Replies to “What You May Not Know About Corn…”

  1. I’m surprised you didn’t mention anything about how 95% of today’s american GMO “corn” is actually filled with poisons that can cause diseases from diabetes to autism to cancer to infertility. Maybe you can address that?

  2. The Europeans created the maize not the Olmecs.

    They have infiltrated our brain through false documentations & books that we read & made use believe that ancient Indians of America (North/Central/South) indulged in hybridization, cross breeding, or gene splicing & also told use that the some tribes did “human sacrifices”. I can keep going like creating stones descriptions of an Toltec holding a cob of maize in both hands. It gets even crazier but the main point is corn is unnatural. lol

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