by David Brooks
When was the last time you really gave some time to thinking about corn? Corn plays a huge role in our lives. When a joke is no good, we say it is corny. When a guy sees a good looking girl, she is referred to as being cornfed. When embarrassed we tend to respond with a quick "Aw shucks." At a Nebraska football game fans actually wear an ear of corn on their heads. Snooty people have even been accused of having a corncob up their (you get my drift).
We should give the lowly vegetable a little more respect, and here’s why:
- One bushel of corn will sweeten 400 cans of pop
- Corn is grown on every continent except Antarctica
- Corn is an ingredient in over 3000 grocery items including: toothpaste, nylon, plastic, oil, saccharin, paint, soap, cereal, and margarine. It is the main ingredient in pet food.
- Residents of Mexico eat an average of 400 lbs. of corn products per year. Americans eat an average of 160 lbs.
- 50% of corn production world wide is for animal feed.
Did you know that the average ear of corn has 600-800 kernels and is always arranged in an even number of rows. Most ears of corn have 16 rows. (Really, count them.) Actually, watermelons and cantaloupes always have an even number of stripes, too. There is one silk for each kernel of corn. A bushel of corn contains about 27,000 kernels. Of the 282 million metric tons of corn grown in the U.S. last year, over 55% was genetically modified.
A little more trivia about the wonderful vegetable we call corn:
- The first breakfast cereal was Corn Flakes
- Most cosmetics have ground corncobs as an ingredient. It is very absorbent and relatively dust free.
- Toilet paper uses corn starch.
- Toothpaste has Sorbitol, which is produced from corn sugar dextrose and is used as a bulking agent (so it stands up on your toothbrush).
- Disposable diapers and feminine protection products use corn starch.
- A few other items that use corn products are: mustard, batteries, beer, crayons, sheetrock, aluminum, and believe it or not the ceramic sleeve on a car;s spark plug has corn paste in it.
Corn is an amazing product. The next time you take an aspirin or caplet that is coated with a shiny finish, remember the shine comes from corn. Also, remember when you pull in to fill up your tank at the gas station that fuel containing 10% ethanol takes about 2 bushels of corn to make 1 gallon of ethanol. It can take as much as 300 gallons of water to make one gallon of ethanol depending on where the corn is grown. Add onto that the extra fertilizers, herbicides and misused land it takes to make “cheap” fuel.
Last but not least the best selling food at the state fair? The CORNDOG.