Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Wholesome Wednesdays: Corn

Corn is unfortunately wrapped up in a lot of controversy. Should it be grown for fuel? For food? For animal feed?  I'd rather not delve into those topics. I have some strong feelings on the subject, but i'd rather not bring those into this particular conversation at this time.
My focus for today's post is the healthfulness human consumption of corn.

I think we all know that corn will not be in the upper echelon of healthy foods: it's sweet! So it must be high in sugar. That being said, it's still a vegetable, and i'll bet it's packed with fiber, cuz it's also filling! So whatever the pros and cons turn out, i will still vote that grilled corn in the cob on a Summer evening is just the best!

The World's Healthiest Foods has some great stuff to say about corn. Corn contains folate and fiber that are good for the cardiovascular system and prenatal health. Beta-cryptoxanthin, an orange yellow cartenoid, is a great cancer fighter found in plants like corn, papayas and other red/orange veggies/fruits.

Calorie give Corn an A! Whippee:
As i guessed: lots of fiber! Corn gets lots of good points for its minerals, vitamins and fiber. Not a lot of calcium though (remember to eat your greens!). At 77 calories for an ear about the size i'm growing, i could indulge in two! Interestingly, neither or nutrition data give corn any bad points, including sugar. So i guess it's not as high in sugar as i thought. You can see from the diagram that the sugar and dietary fiber are about equal. Right on. Corn IS good for you!

One last comment on the healthfulness of corn: Nourishing Traditions has some things to say about the consumption of corn in its natural state. As we all know from high school social studies/history classes, native peoples from this continent (american) have been eating corn as part of their traditional diets for hundreds of years, along with beans to form a pretty darned balanced diet. Wasn't until modern processed corn got into their diets that problems started showing up. Today you're probably eating most of your corn in the form of processed corn syrup, salty chips, or straight off the cob.
Traditional recipes call for soaking corn or corn flour in lime water. (the mineral, not the fruit). This releases nicotinamide (vitamin B3), which otherwise remains bound up in the grain. Soaking also improves the amino acid quality of proteins in the germ. - Nourishing Traditions, Sally Fallon
 Masa flour is flour ground from corn kernels already soaked in lime - thus corn tortillas as a healthy part of the diet. I'm in fact planning on making some tortillas this weekend when i host a Ladies Night at my little homestead.

So, enjoy your Summer corn when you get it. Resist the urge to buy corn at all times of the year, despite its now being available in groery stores most of the time. Reconnnect to the earth and the growing season near you and enjoy its natural bounty. You'll be eating more delicious/fresh food, and your purchase power will send a strong message of your preference for sustainability to your grocer.

I can't wait to harvest a few of these guys this weekend. (Harvest corn about 18-24 days after the first silks appear and they've withered, and the ears feel full. Don't let it get old and tough, enjoy it fresh and sweet!)

What should i do with my first ears of corn? Grill, boil, eat it raw? Give me some ideas.

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