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Corn on the cob - Maize - (Zea mays)
Did you know that:
Cornflour, cornflakes, tortillas, popcorn and corn on the cob are all made from Maize?
And that 2/3 of the carbohydrates that humans eat come from just three cereal crops: - Wheat, rice and maize?
Grass of the Month - September
In this, the International Year of Biodiversity, CEL website features a different British Grass each month - Follow these pages and you will be come an expert in grasses too. Well, a little more knowledgeable maybe!
1: January - Reed Canary Grass - Phalaris arundinacea
(Sentence added on 16 Sept: Today I saw corn on the cob for sale in Booths our local supermarket - 65p or three for a pound!. I wonder if it is local? I asked - they said it came from UK - we haven't got any more specific than that)
We think of maize / corn on the cob as yellow grains in a tin at the grocers.
My memories of maize:-
Much of the maize imported as cattle feed to the UK is GM maize.
I looked at the bare gound under the maize crop and thought "This is really not very good for biodiversity- there are no plants growing underneath it."
But then under wheat and barley there will be no other plants. That is why the RSPB is so keen on having wide field margins that allow other species to grow, to provide food for insects and birds.
There are many stories one can tell about maize - Maize can grow twice as fast as wheat but it can cause nutrient deficiency in humans. It has had a big effect in the role out of history.
Columbus discovered maize in the New World in 1492 and brought it back to Spain (though there is some evidence of Maize-like cobs in earlier statues in India).
Maize was cheap and would grow on poor soil on wetter soil than wheat and in drier soil than rice. It became a dominant food.
Unfortunately wherever maize went a disease "pellagra" followed. People eating a diet consisting only of Maize develop a disease called pellagra - Italian: for sour skin - pelle -skin and agra - sour. bit.ly/cCHE4R
Pellagra is caused by a deficiency in niacin. People get dermatitis, diarrhoea, dementia and death.
Whilst niacin is available in maize, it exists in bound form (niacytin) that is not biologically available to monogastric (single stomach) animals such as humans
In Mexico where people have eaten it for thousands of years, maize is treated with an alkaline solution of lime (or boiled with ash) which releases the niacin before being dried and ground up. more.. They do not get ill. more
A book called "The Heritage of Maize is killing Africans: The Kenyan story" might be interesting to read. more -
Meanwhile I have just looked at the labelling on the packet on the delicious chocloalte cake I am eating - which is going to my waste.. ingredients include Maize starch and dextrose (dextrose is made from maize starch, broken down by the enzyme amylaze produced by GM organisms)
Well - enjoy your next corn on the cob.
What a fascinating world we live in.
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