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Corn Summertime Gold or Toxic Treat
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.
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.
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
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".
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.