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Corn Is A-Maize-Ing

By Kristie Popa

When you picture corn, what do you think of?  Yellow corn on the cob or crunchy popcorn?  Corn also called maize, provides us with many items including cornstarch, cooking oil, sweeteners, cereal, beverages and over 4,000 other products that we use each and every day.

On June 11th, we will celebrate National Corn on the Cob day.  On this day, we celebrate the delicious summer treat which is grown in many different parts of the country including Florida, where farmers grow sweet corn as well as field corn.  Florida’s sweet corn is mainly grown in the Everglades accounting for more than ½ of the state’s corn production. Although corn is produced in Florida, the top corn producing state is Iowa, which grew 2,508,800,000 bushels of corn in 2018 during growing season October through June.  A bushel is a unit of measurement for dry goods and equals about 64 pints.

Farmers grow several different types of corn including flint corn, sweet corn, dent corn, popcorn and pod corn.  Flint corn or Indian corn has been grown since Colonial times and is used for food and animal feed.  Sweet corn is a fresh to consumer food grade corn found in grocery stores.   Dent corn also known as field corn is used in animal feed, car fuel, plastics, adhesives and starches.  Popcorn is the oldest surviving type of corn.  Finally, pod corn is an ornamental corn not grown commercially.

All of this delicious and beneficial corn is grown by farmers who follow a strict process including planting, pollinating, maturing, harvesting and storing the corn.  From there, it is transported and processed before being purchased by the consumer.  Each of the processes is very important in the production of all corn products offered to consumers throughout the world.

Not only does corn taste good, the fiber in corn helps you stay full longer between meals and feeds healthy bacteria in your digestive tract helping protect against colon cancer. Corn is rich in Vitamin C which is an antioxidant that helps protect your cells from damage and wards off diseases like cancer and heart disease.  Although there are health benefits, corn is a starchy vegetable which means that it contains sugar and carbohydrates meaning that you should do your best to not overdo it when it comes to consuming the delicious food.

Take the opportunity to prepare your corn on the cob by boiling it, steaming it, roasting it or grilling it.   If you choose to roast or grill, you should keep the husk on to keep it moist and flavorful.  You can add corn to soups, stews, and casseroles and include it in delicious appetizers at a summer barbeque.

For more information about corn including the parts of corn, the process from field to fork, information about corn-based products and more, check out the Illinois Ag Mag on Corn https://tinyurl.com/yczpzdgq

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