How many items in your pantry contain a corn product? Whether you know it or not, chances are that all of them do. When one thinks of corn, images of corn on the cob or popcorn may come to mind. Corn however is not grown solely for those summer barbeques or movie theater snacks. From the edible to the inedible, corn appears in all shapes and sizes.
While corn has been around for quite some time; to many, its uses seem unclear. Until recently, corn was grown solely for food. Today, corn has transformed into something much more. Through scientific research and experimentation, many different uses for corn have been discovered. It is no surprise that corn is now heavily depended on.
In the US especially, there is a strong dependence on corn. Corn takes up “80 million acres of farmland,” (Avery). The amount of land used to grow corn goes to show how important corn is in the US. Without corn, Americans would lack many products seen and used in everyday life. The US depends on corn because of its adaptability, high yields and multipurpose uses.
A Brief History on Corn
To understand how corn became a commodity, it is important to know more about corn as a crop. For all its simplicity, the corn crop is one with a complex and deep rooted history. Corn has turned into a commodity directly linked to our nation’s resources and energy. Corn plays a significant role in the growth and development of America as it is known today.
When colonist came to the Americas, corn was quickly adopted as a new grain. With England across the ocean, there was no easy way to acquire food. The ability to grow ones’ own crop dictated the death or survival of a colony. Corn was easy to grow and provided a good source of carbohydrates. Corn soon replaced conventional grains like wheat or barley and incorporated itself into the daily diets of colonist. Merchants brought corn back to Europe and peasants began growing it there as well. The crop which had originated in the Americas soon spread worldwide.
The prosperity of corn is due in part to its anatomy. “Corn is a wind pollinated plant; it is spread not only by wind but by insects, animals and human contact. Capable of being carried great distances; corn pollen travels miles away and can stay viable for weeks,” (Cummings). This method of pollination allows corn to reproduce easily and increases its range of proliferation. With little human intervention required, this is a great characteristic for farmers who work to supply everyone with food.
Cornucopia of Corn
The corn we eat today is not that same as our ancestors once ate. Corn is easy for farmers to grow and can be bred for select properties. Thanks to selective breeding and genetic modifications; the common corn crop has been altered drastically. Where there were once few varieties, farmers now have a plethora of corn breeds to choose from. “Today the most common types of corn are flint dent, sweet and popcorn” (Hancock).
Flint is the most...