Corn Summertime Gold or Toxic Treat

Vegetable sculpture at 2005 Ellerslie Flower Show, Auckland, New Zealand. This is one segment of the display, which had Appetisers, Starters, Mains, and Desserts sections, as well as smaller displays for Soup and Wines.
Vegetable sculpture at 2005 Ellerslie Flower Show, Auckland, New Zealand. This is one segment of the display, which had Appetisers, Starters, Mains, and Desserts sections, as well as smaller displays for Soup and Wines. | Source

Sweet corn is the stuff of childhood memories

Sweet corn is the stuff of childhood memories, crisp sweet corn on the cob, cooked in a hurry to be sure the corn was as sweet as possible. Pick the corn and hurry into the house, Mom has a pot of salted water at a rolling boil. Finally, melted butter running down your arms as you dig in. As a teenager, fresh corn meant friends and a midnight raid on the local farmer's fields but the corn was wonderful. Despite the possible glamour of a life of crime, there's just no money in stolen corn. I had either to branch out into burglary and mugging or get a job to buy my own corn. I had a guilty conscience so I decided to work for a living. Some thirty years passed between raiding gardens and my first grownup veggie garden. The pleasures of golden summer corn never quite measured up when the corn came from the supermarket.

Dekalb_Monsanto_zea_mays  Slowly Monsanto is taking ownership of our food supply
Dekalb_Monsanto_zea_mays Slowly Monsanto is taking ownership of our food supply | Source
Interesting photo has nothing to do with corn
Interesting photo has nothing to do with corn
Field, corn, Liechtenstein, Mountains, Alps, Vaduz, sky, clouds, landscape. This is the type of corn often genetically modified. In Europe, they manage to survive without GMO foods
Field, corn, Liechtenstein, Mountains, Alps, Vaduz, sky, clouds, landscape. This is the type of corn often genetically modified. In Europe, they manage to survive without GMO foods | Source

Genetically Modified Sweet Corn

If you have been reading my Hubs, you know that I have issues with genetically modified food, especially corn. Until recently, sweet corn was still okay to eat from the grocery store. The big Ag/Seed/Chemical companies hadn't put their tentacles into our sweet corn supply. Sweet corn is the corn people eat fresh while field corn is used for everything else. The corn syrup that is sweetening your soda, the ethanol in your gas tank, the ground corn in your taco chips and the corn in your flakes all started out as field corn while sweet corn saves itself for us to eat right off the cob.

Monsanto designs genetically modified corn so farmers can spray the cornfields with the weed killer Round Up without killing the corn and the corn produces its own insecticide (Bt Toxin). Consequently, grab a gag of taco chips and you get to eat trace amounts of Round Up. We were still safe to eat sweet corn, until recently that is. In 2011, Monsanto announced plans to grow genetically modified sweet corn on 250,000 acres, making up about 40 percent of the sweet corn market. Before that time, Switzerland-based Syngenta made the only GMO corn on the market on a small basis. Last summer (2012) large quantities of GMO sweet corn started being sold to unsuspecting consumers. This sweet corn is used for frozen and canned products, and is available fresh across the country. A list of certified non-GMO corn products is available from Non GMO Project If enough of us contact our representatives in D.C. they might pay attention to us instead of big business.

Monsanto has their own press release presenting their side of the GMO issue here. Millions of dollars are at stake for the GMO companies and in truth, I cannot find any research that says eating GMO foods is harmful to your health. It behooves it to think of all the research that went into pesticides like DDT, drugs like Vioxx and Thalidomide and the years of debate while CEOs claimed that tobacco was not addictive and did not cause cancer. Companies like Monsanto perform and pay for the research on their products, then a government agency reviews Monsanto's data and says yes or no. It is up to consumers to decide if they want to trust these businesses or to be cautious.

Reviving An Heirloom Corn That Packs More Flavor And Nutrition

Another iconic food of summer, watermelon, has nothing to do with Monsanto or corn. Incredible knife skills from the chef
Another iconic food of summer, watermelon, has nothing to do with Monsanto or corn. Incredible knife skills from the chef | Source

Truth in Labeling?

The US does not require GMO products to be labeled and there is little interest in the public demanding true labels but there is a solution. Avoid any corn that is not certified organic, or that is not labeled as non-GMO, General Mills (Green Giant, Cascadian Farms), Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods have already indicated that they will not use Monsanto’s new GMO sweet corn in their products. It might be useful to note here that there is a difference between hybrid and GMO plants. Hybrids are grown by crossing two parent plants to produce hybrid seeds. These are still natural plants that could be produced by nature. GMO plants are the result of scientists inserting genetic material into a plant to alter the traits of the plant. Thus, hybrid plants can still be grown organically and safe to consume. GMO plants? You decide.

Spicy Corn Chaat

Corn Nuts from the Andes

In 1545, AD, Conquistador Juan Ruiz de Arce wrote that high in the Andes, in what
is now Peru; natives were toasting the local Cuzco corn and munching on what we
came to know as corn nuts

Husk leaves (aka Flag leaves) on Maize are typical of temperate sweet corns. Tropical sweet corns and most field corns lack or have very reduced husk leaves.
Husk leaves (aka Flag leaves) on Maize are typical of temperate sweet corns. Tropical sweet corns and most field corns lack or have very reduced husk leaves. | Source
Colchester crab mayonnaise, avocado, sweet corn sorbet and caviar. My wife wasn't entirely enthusiastic about it. At Pollen Street Social,
Colchester crab mayonnaise, avocado, sweet corn sorbet and caviar. My wife wasn't entirely enthusiastic about it. At Pollen Street Social, | Source
Sweet corn ready for purchase
Sweet corn ready for purchase | Source

What do you do with your sweet corn?

Do you make any new or unusual dishes? Or, are you a traditionalist, just boiled or grilled. Corn is a wonderful player in the kitchen, it can be the vegetable side dish, or it can be the starch. Crispy kernels play nice with salads and the milky juices make great chowders. At the "Little Owl" in New York City, chef Joey is combining fresh sweet corn with lobster and asparagus to make his signature corn chowder. In the food service industry, we find many creative chefs finding new ways to use sweet corn.. In Chicago, at the Apiary restaurant, they sell a beer called "Stalk You Like a Hurricane" which is flavored with charred corn husks to provide a smoky flavor. At Telepan in New York City, chef Bill Telepan combines fresh corn kernels with corn flour (Finely ground cornmeal), flour, baking powder, sour cream and milk to create his "Corn Blinis" which he stacks with chanterelles, shell beans and red onion compote to create his "Napoleon". Chef Louis Maldonado at Spoonbar, in Healdsburg CA. grates fresh corn and slowly cooks it down with butter and salt to make his "Fresh Corn Grits Pastry" which he wraps in pastry and fries as part of his "Summer Corn Salad".

Barranquilla maize buñuelos (sweet corn fritters)
Barranquilla maize buñuelos (sweet corn fritters) | Source
This is an image from a paper label for a can of S N Hyde Egyptian Sweet Corn. This can label was printed prior to 1900 and is in public domain due to its age. This can label was found under the front porch of the house that belonged to the F B Jenki
This is an image from a paper label for a can of S N Hyde Egyptian Sweet Corn. This can label was printed prior to 1900 and is in public domain due to its age. This can label was found under the front porch of the house that belonged to the F B Jenki | Source

Corn Ice cream, corn tea

At the website The Kitchn.com they offer a recipe for sweet corn ice cream
The Philippines have a variety of shaved ice desserts and here on Hub pages we can find this unique recipe for "Mais Con Yelo" Sweet Corn on Shaved Ice
Corn silk, picked when they are still yellow and silky, are used to make tea in herbal medicines. The silk contains tannins with diuretic and anti-inflammatory properties and the tea is "golden Green and slightly sweet. Corn silk can also be used dried as a garnish for salad or fried to make a nest for the base of a dish.

Finally, if you still want more corn you can always make your own Moon Shine, just beware the Revenuers.

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Comments 8 comments

NMLady profile image

NMLady 3 years ago from New Mexico & Arizona

This is very interesting. I grew up in the heart of Ill. corn country. I love corn on the cob in the summer. GMOs should be labeled! In New Mexico they put all kinds of flavors on roasted corn on the cob. Very interesting BUT I still prefer dunked in butter with sal y pimeinto (salt and pepper!)


chefsref profile image

chefsref 3 years ago from Citra Florida Author

Hi NM

Thanx for reading and commenting. I don't understand why we consumers don't insist on GMO labeling. Up until I researched this article I had no idea that sweet corn was being modified.


The Dirt Farmer profile image

The Dirt Farmer 3 years ago from United States

It's hard to understand the corporate mindset. What possible benefit could there ultimately be in killing the customer? Good article, Lee. Shared & voted up. --Jill


chefsref profile image

chefsref 3 years ago from Citra Florida Author

Thanx Jill

Eventually, low wages and toxic products will destroy not just customers but also the businesses that need customers. Why this makes sense to anyone is beyond me.


CraftytotheCore profile image

CraftytotheCore 3 years ago

My uncle first told me about GMOs a couple of months ago. I've been hospitalized recently with a variety of health problems and my latest was gallbladder surgery. My son has Autism and ADHD. I have a friend who has a daughter with an allergy to corn syrup.

I grew up on a farm, eating sweet corn. It's a shame they have to modify something that used to be so plentiful for cheap.


chefsref profile image

chefsref 3 years ago from Citra Florida Author

Thanx Crafty

Yeah, I think the day will come when we figure out that we have been poisoning ourselves all to profit big business.

I have been gardening for a couple of years and I do it for 2 reasons.

1) I can avoid the toxins in packaged foods, I control the use of pesticides and fertilizers

2) Home grown costs a fraction of store bought. The farmer only gets 10 percent of the price we pay for vegetables and even less when we buy packaged foods.


Ashish 23 months ago

long term animal study on the helath effects of genetically engineered foods, and comes as California voters consider the Proposition 37 Right to Know initiative to label genetically engineered foods, according to a news release from the Yes on Proposition 37


chefsref profile image

chefsref 23 months ago from Citra Florida Author

Thanx Ashis

I hope it passes as it will influence the rest of the country to let us know what we are eating.

Recently I read that bugs are developing resistance to BT corn. I expect the response of Monsanto will be to develop ever more toxic corn

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