Mid-summer brings the deliciousness of fresh corn! In addition to being tasty, corn is a great source of thiamin (vitamin B1), which the body uses to produce energy in cells. Corn is also a source of fiber for healthy digestion, manganese for healthy bones, and vitamin C which boosts your immune system. Eat corn in moderation because although it can be considered a vegetable, it contains more starch and sugar than other vegetables.
Did you know corn is part of the same botanical family as rice? It’s true! Both belong to the grass family Poaceae, which also includes wheat, oats, and barley.
Is corn a grain, a vegetable or a fruit? Actually, it’s all three! When corn is harvested before maturity while the kernels are soft, it is considered a vegetable. Corn harvested at maturity is considered a grain. Each kernel of corn on a cob is a whole fruit.
Wondering where in the world corn originated? Ears of corn have been found in caves in Mexico that date back seven to eight thousand years and has been grown from Southern Canada to the Andes Mountains in South America. The Native Americans gave corn to Christopher Columbus, who brought it back to Spain. Once in Europe, corn spread quickly throughout the world. Some breeds of corn have been genetically modified and/or grown in faraway places, so we recommend buying organic corn directly from a local farmer to get the freshest taste and best nutrition.
There are so many easy ways to enjoy corn! Fresh corn from the farmers’ market can be enjoyed on the cob after a very quick boil or on the grill. Add corn to your favorite salad, casserole, or soup, or sprinkle corn kernels on pizza for a new take on toppings. Stuff corn and black beans into whole wheat pita pockets for a healthy sandwich. Cut the kernels off the cob and freeze a bag for last-minute meal ideas. Make the delicious Southwestern Bean and Corn Salad from Tasting Week, taught by local chef Renata Langis, at Alta Sierra School (see recipe below), or Summer Grilled Corn & Orzo Salad from Executive Chef Jackie Lee at Watershed at the Owl!
Did you know?
- The average ear of corn has 800 kernels in 16 rows.
- Corn is grown on every continent of the world with the exception of Antarctica.
- Henry Blair, the second African American to be issued a US patent, invented the corn planter in 1834, greatly increasing the efficiency by limiting time and labor.
- Today, most of the corn grown in the United States is used to feed cattle, hogs, sheep, and poultry.
Southwest Bean & Corn Salad
- 3/4 cup cooked black beans
- 1/2 cup of organic corn kernels
- 1/2 cup thinly sliced red cabbage
- 1/3 cup diced fresh tomato (about half of one tomato)
- 1/4 cup diced bell pepper (about a quarter of one bell pepper)
- 1/4 cup diced avocado (about a quarter of one avocado)
- 2 tablespoons minced green onions
- 3 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
Dressing: To make a batch of dressing for 4 servings, combine ½ cup olive oil, ¼ cup lime juice, 1 clove of garlic (minced), and ½ teaspoon salt to a jar and shake well until uniform. Keep dressing refrigerated.
Salad: To make the salad, place the cooked beans and the corn kernels in a large mixing bowl. Then, add the sliced cabbage, chopped tomatoes, bell pepper, avocado, green onion and cilantro. Finally, pour desired amount of dressing, mix to incorporate, and serve.