Corn or maize has been the backbone of civilizations in the western world long before Columbus set foot in the Americas.
Today it feeds the world in so many ways never imagined by the Native Americans.
They first bred and cultivated from natural grasses into what the Europeans found when they arrived here several hundred years ago.
For food you can pop it, boil it, steam it, cream it, or eat it right from the cob. Maize can be made into meal and eaten as cereal, rolled into flakes, puffed into balls, or made into Chex.
What would a trip to a movie theater be without a large box of popcorn?
This delicious treat can be mixed with caramel and nuts, covered with powdered cheese, mixed with marshmallow and made into balls, strung on a string and hung on a Christmas tree, or used in ways only limited by your imagination.
If you look at the list of ingredients on most of the food products you eat you will find syrup, starch, meal, or some other product made from this amazing grain.
Most of the meat, dairy, and eggs that we eat thrive because they are fed a steady diet of the homegrown grain.
Fifty percent of the U S production is for livestock feed. Dairy, beef, and pig farmers use most of their acreage to produce the grain to feed their livestock.
Mexicans eat about four hundred pounds a year per person and Americans about one hundred and sixty pounds of corn or products produced from it.
There are more than two hundred varieties all are good sources of vitamin C with only the yellow kernels being a minor source of vitamin A.
Forty percent of the sugar content will convert to starch in about six hours if kept at room temperature so use or store quickly to retain sweetness.
It is the ingredient in more than three thousand grocery products.
Grill it in the husks to retain flavor for a summer treat.
The world record for eating off the cob is held by Cookie Jarvis and is thirty-three and one half ears in twelve minutes.
Corn Makes A Versatile Alternative Fuel
When it comes to alternative fuels let's talk about one you can grow on your own property.
Being distilled into moonshine has caused many a poor soul grief over the years but I've read many accounts of taking some of the home brew and making it to the gas station when they've ran out of gas. Now I don't advise you trying this being such a waste of good shine it would be.
Gasohol made by mixing gasoline with ethanol seems like a good alternative fuel when they figure out how to make it cost effective, which I expect will come soon.
Corn fired furnaces or stoves can be fired either exclusively with the grain or mixed with pellets.
As a clean burning augmentation to more expensive heating methods or as the main heat source when you can grow your own or are able to buy it at a good price.
The whole dried grains work well with augers or automatic feeders in stoves that hold a day or more fuel in their hoppers.
Thermostatically controlled dampers and feed systems make these stoves a good bet for the independently minded organic gardener or farmer.
With the push in this country for more gasohol production there will be a temporary shortage of corn, raising prices on all the products dependent on it.
Everything from meat and dairy products to nylon and synthetic rubber and many products in between depend so heavily on this wonder grain that the American farmer will step up to the plate with the increased production needed.
One of the earliest American food staples will carry us into the twenty-first century and beyond.