SUMMER 2011. CORN. 07.22.11
Last week, I featured the nutritionally inferior cucumber. For shame. And this week, I bring you the Marion Barry of vegetables – perennial, highly suspect and of course, covered heavily by media from coast to coast. Has this site completely lost its vision? Sheesh.
Anyone that’s paid one iota of attention to food production issues understands the role of corn. It’s used to make just. About. Everything. Take a look at these fine products made from wholesome, natural corn. For those too bored to click the link, I’ll summarize – corn is everywhere from latex paint to grits. It’s not just for soda and chips, people! Crayons, insecticides, ink and fuel ethanol depend on this key crop (more reading on this topic here). Millions (zillions?) of dollars have been earmarked to defend corn sugar – formerly known by the more sinister moniker “high fructose corn syrup” (shudder) – to let nice folks like us know that corn is a vegetable and it’s natural, so it’s really okay. Okay? Nothing to fear here, folks. Go ahead and slurp it up to your gut’s content.
When asked for comment on these allegations, corn had this to say, “B!%#@ set me up!” Easy now, corn. Let me finish. Yes, corn may be the only vegetable vilified in this this way. You don’t hear of billions of dollars pooled to protect the fragile reputation of endive, do you? Of course not. Though media coverage extensive and accusations concerning, to say the least, there are a few attributes one should not overlook. Nutritional bang? Virtually nil. Cancer-fighting abilities? You have to be pulling my leg. However, walk down to any farmers’ market and watch the husked mound winnow down like a loop from a time-elapsed camera on fast-forward and you’ll know that there is something more. Corn on the cob. Corn salad. Even sweet corn ice cream.
In its whole, natural form, corn is a revered summer tradition, like fireworks or snow cones on the beach. We grill it. We cut it off the cob. We boil it. Our annual clambakes depend on it. I’ll admit – I don’t want it in my drink. Or my peanut butter or my condiments. Oh, misunderstood corn. Where you belong is on my grill, or as the show-stealer in my salad or wedged annoyingly between my teeth. Sorry, that was gross. But you get the point. While corn may not boast the properties of nutritional powerhouses like kale or sweet potato, its role in the vegetable rainbow is distinct and we wouldn’t want it any other way.