- Food and Cooking
Maize belongs to the kingdom of plants to the family of Poaceae. It originated in Mexico around twelve thousand years ago. Maize plants develop on kernels arranged in a cluster. Maize spread in North and South American sub continent around five thousand years ago. Maize was introduced in Europe around seven hundred years ago and steadily it spread to the other parts of the world. Sweet corn is consumed by humans and field corn is used to feed domesticated animals and pets. Field corn is also used to make corn meal , corn oil, whiskey and other drinks for human consumption. In domesticated corn plants many cobs grow throughout the length of the plant and development s in cultivation has increased their size and yield.Maize is a cereal crop and a staple food which was named by the Spanish. United States of America and China are the biggest producers of maize in the world.
Clay loam, sandy loam, black cotton and fertile soils rich in organic biomass are preferred to cultivate maize. Maize requires moderate rainfall and temperatures between twenty to thirty degrees Celsius. Good drainage is essential for good growth of the maize crop and soil which are slightly acidic to neutral are preferred to grow maize. Frost can be devastating for the maize crop so it is not sown in extreme winter season . The soil used to grow maize should be rich in nutrients and organic matter to provide sufficient nourishment to the crop. Maize plants grow from two to ten meters in height. Maize corn come in different colors of black, grey, purple, red, white and yellow. Maize grain is grind into flour which is gluten free. Maize grain is used to produce bio fuels. Chemicals like lutein, zeaxanthin and anthocyanins give maize red or yellow color. Various types of maize corns like flour corn, pop corn, dent corn, waxy corn, striped maize corn are grown. Interbreeding among various cultivars of maize plant is extensively researched and implemented which yields a better maize crop. Altering or modifying genes in subsequent maize plantations have given good yield and results. Maize plant uses carbon four fixation which is good for soil on which it grows. . Insects like pink borer, shoot fly, stem borer, termites and diseases like turicum leaf blight, common rust, common smut, ear rot and others can severely damage the maize crop. Insecticides and fungicides are applied at a regular basis on the crop and pest control is effectively monitored to keep the crop free from any such dangers.
Uses of Maize
Maize is used extensively in cuisines worldwide. In Mexico, maize forms major ingredients in almost all of the dishes. Tacos, tortillas, tatole are prepared form maize. In Africa porridge made from maizes a major staple food. Maize grains are heated with oil and mixed with salt to make pop corn which is a very popular snack in a lot of countries. Maize grain is grind into flour which is baked and consumed with vegetables. Maize kernels are boiled and used as a snack with salt and other ingredients. They are also used in tamales, cakes, ice cream, salads and garnishes. One hundred grams of maize provides around ninety calories of energy. Maize contains vital vitamins, minerals and fiber which is good for health for both humans and domesticated animals. Dried maize grains and cobs are used to feed domesticated animals and pets. Maize provides starch which is used to make many chemical products. Plastics, food colors, adhesives are prepared using maize or certain chemicals present in maize. Maize is used to produce organic compounds like ethanol which is used as fuel and pollution caused due to ethanol is less than traditional fuels. Certain bio fuels use maize as an ingredient to increase their fuel efficiency. Bio gas is produced using maize and production of diesel is also being researched from the maize biomass. In certain underdeveloped areas where maize was grown in alkaline water and consumed, some people developed pellagra, a condition caused due to deficiency of vitamin B. This was researched and necessary steps are taken so these conditions and deficiency does not arise.
Maize contains lutein and zeaxanthin which have good effects on human health. Popcorn prevents diverticulosis disease which is good for intestines. Maize helps to regulate sugar levels and controls diabetes. Maize helps in reducing the risk of hemorrhoids. Maize also helps in maintaining the health of nerves system in humans and improves cognitive function in humans as it contains vitamins like thiamine and Niacin. Cooked maize has antioxidants which helps in improving general function of the body and reduces the risk of cancer. Corn helps in regulating cholesterol level in the blood which helps the body in fighting cardiovascular diseases. Corn helps in preventing anemia and betters the immune system of the body. Corn is used to make electrical conductors for car batteries and cosmetic items like deodorants and hand sanitizers. Corn is used in making candies to sweeten their taste and cough syrup as corn does not crystallize easily. Diapers and matches are also made using corn starch. Maize contains proteins that can cause allergies in few cases.