Corn is first recorded as having been found in North America in 1006, by Karlsefne, at a place called Hop, in the vicinity of the Taunton River. Indian corn was known to be cultivated in both North and South America, from Canada to Patagonia, long before Columbus discovered America. In 1492, he described corn as “a kind of grain called maize of which was made a very well-tasting flour.” In the 1540 invasion by DeSoto, corn was found in Florida, Alabama, and Mississippi. According to research by Dr. Edgar Anderson, vast quantities of corn were found in excavations in southern Peru and northern Chile. Jars of kernels were found, as well as tassels, stalks, and leaves. In southern Mexico, water bowls and funerary urns used by the prehistoric Zapotecs were found decorated with ears of corn evidently cast from the original ears.
The Incas of Peru, the Mayans of Central America, and the Aztecs of Mexico used maize not only as a food, but as currency, fuel, smoking silk, jewelry, and building material. It was an impor tant contribution to art in decorating temples, homes, ceramics, and toys. There are probably as many Indian legends based upon corn as there are Indian tribes. It played an important part in their festive and religious ceremonies. Quinche, a variety of corn still grown today, is said to have originated as an Incan corn from the Andean highlands, and was handed down for centuries both as a food for human consumption and for cattle feeding. Indian corn, or maize, was spread throughout the Orient by the early Spanish and Portuguese travelers and may have crossed the Pacific in pre -Colombian times.
Sweet corn probably originated with the North American Indi ans. The first written description of it is dated 1801. It is described as ”having a white, shriveled grain when ripe, as yielding richer juice in the stalks than common corn.” After sweet corn was introduced to Plymouth, it gradually became known as a common gar den vegetable, and some thirty varieties were listed in the early seed catalogs of 1880.
In 1940, a vast number of varieties of sweet corn were being grown for the fresh market. This was because new hybrids suitable for cultivation in the southern and the western United States were being developed.
The most important varieties of sweet corn grown commercially are the yellow hybrids. They are more desirable for their high quality and superior food value than the white hybrids.
In the last three or four years the market season for sweet corn has developed to year-round output. Florida and California, partic ularly, supply the winter market. The peak months, however, are still July through September. The frozen market has also increased the winter supply.
Good quality sweet corn has cobs that are well filled with plump, milky, bright kernels just firm enough to resist a slight finger pressure. The kernels should be filled with a thick white liquid if rich-bodied flavor is desired. If the kernels are only semi solid or doughlike, there is little sweetness and the kernel skins will be tough. The husks should be fresh and green. Yellowed husks indicate age or damage. Quality can best be determined by pulling back the husks and examining the kernels. Note, when buying, whether the corn is sweet corn or the green field corn variety. Choose the fresh, yellow corn for greater nutrition.
Corn is considered one of the easiest foods to digest. It is very high in roughage, so if you are following a soft diet, you should avoid it.
Corn is rated among brown rice and barley as one of the best balanced starches. For those who want to avoid weight gain, corn should be used sparingly, because it is rich in carbohydrates.
Yellow corn is the best corn to use, as it is very high in magnesium, which is a wonderful bowel regulator and one of the chemical elements we need so much. Southern yellow corn is a greater bone and muscle builder than northern white corn. Yellow corn is higher in phosphorus than white corn, which makes it an excellent food for the brain and nervous system.
A yellow corn broth, or gruel, is quite soothing to the intestinal tract and, mixed with barley or brown rice, has a wonderful flavor. Yellow corn, or yellow corn meal, should be used at least once a week in a balanced diet.
NUTRIENTS IN ONE POUND
Vitamin A: 1,260I.U.
Ascorbic acid: 30mg