The ONE type of corn you should NEVER eat (Shocking!) 

 

Today is Columbus Day, also known as Indigenous Peoples Day.  

Indigenous people have made countless contributions to the world’s culture, commerce, and cuisine.  

And one of their most coveted contributions—corn—might be making its way across your table this fall season.  

But if you’re eating a certain type, your health could be in danger.  

I’ll share with you EXACTLY what this hidden threat is…and how to AVOID it.   

Then, I’ll share with you a delicious, simple recipe that makes good use of one of my favorite, traditional, Indigenous American foods. 

Columbian Exchange forever changed the world 

I recently had the pleasure of spending an entire delightful afternoon talking about the Italian explorer Christopher Columbus, among other topics, with veteran stage and screen actor Tony LoBianco.  

Tony is perhaps best known for his role as Salvatore “Sal” Boca in the 1971 Academy Award-winning film, The French Connection, with Gene Hackman, Roy Schneider, and Fernando Rey. And today, Tony and his wife Alyse Muldoon (a holistic healer) run a horse farm in Maryland and were clients of my daughter’s organic farm (www.facebook.com/CozziFamily). 

Tony also serves as a national spokesperson for the Order of the Sons of Italy, which advocates to continue the tradition of Columbus Day for Italian-Americans.  

Tony and I spoke at great length about the lasting impact of the “Columbian Exchange,” which refers to the exchange of microbes, commodities, ideas, and foods between what was called the New and Old Worlds following Christopher Columbus’ first voyage to the Americas in 1492.

Of course, corn, which the indigenous peoples in Central America called “maize,” was a particularly important part of the exchange…  

Corn was originally a nutritious, colorful crop 

The use of maize as a food crop dates back about 9,000 years to Central America (today’s Mexico and Guatemala). Indigenous peoples there discovered how to modify a kind of wild grass called teosinte to get it to produce larger, edible kernels.  

Then, in 1492, on his first trip to the Americas, Columbus encountered maize, which the indigenous people used to make corn meal for breads and tortillas. (They also ate it raw from the stalk or added the kernels to soups and stews.)   

Noting its value, Columbus brought it (along with other invaluable food crops) back with him to Europe. And, eventually, through indigenous trade routes, maize also reached North America, where European colonists in New England and Virginia in the early 1600s encountered what they called “Indian corn.”  

The Indigenous Americans in North America preferred to grow their corn together with beans and squash. (The bean vines grew on the cornstalks as “bean poles” and the squash spread along the ground, to keep out weeds.) When grown and served together like this, Indigenous Americans called them the “Three Sisters.” 

Of course, the colorful and nutritious “Indian corn” grown back then was vastly different from the nutritionally devoid corn sold in most grocery stores today… 

Beware of the corn sold in most grocery stores  

As I often report, more than 90 percent of the corn grown in the U.S. today is genetically modified (GM) to withstand glyphosate (Roundup®). And it doesn’t contain nearly the same amounts of healthy carotenoids or anthocyanins as you would find in colorful, organic, original Indian corn. In addition, the sweetest GM varieties consist of nearly 40 percent sugar, bringing new meaning to the term “candy corn.”  

Manufacturers also use GM corn to make the low-cost, unhealthy sweetener “high-fructose corn syrup.” (But that’s really a misnomer because corn doesn’t naturally contain fructose. Manufacturers artificially add some to corn syrup.) They also put GM corn in cosmetics, glue, and shoe polish. You’ll even find it (as ethanol) in your gas, thanks to government mandates that hurt the performance of your car engine. 

Some farmers in the U.S. still grow traditional, multicolored, “Indian corn.” But it’s generally sold as a seasonal decoration and not consumed as a food. 

So, when food shopping at the grocery store or farmer’s market, make sure you avoid all the commercially grown, pale, “sweet” corn. Instead, look for organic varieties with the deepest yellow coloring. Corn with deep yellow, blue, red, or purple kernels has nearly 60 times more healthy carotenoids than white or sweet corn.  

Or perhaps—next summer—try growing the “Three Sisters” yourself in your own yard!  

Then, when you do grow or find some corn you can safely enjoy, try making this Mexican street corn (elote). A friend and colleague recently shared this simple, tasty recipe with me: 

Ingredients 

  • 4 ears of fresh corn, shucked and silk removed 
  • 1/4 cup of full-fat, organic mayonnaise  
  • 1/2 cup crumbled/grated cotija cheese (salty, crumbly Mexican cheese, available in most grocery stores) 
  • 1 lime, cut in quarters 
  • Mexican hot sauce 
  • Ancho chile powder 
  • Wooden sticks or small kabob skewers with pointed tip 

Directions 

  1. Boil water in a large pot. 
  2. Add shucked corn, cover, and cook for 5 minutes. Use tongs to remove corn. Set aside. 
  3. Wait a few minutes for the corn to cool slightly. Insert a stick or skewer into the base of each ear of corn. 
  4. Brush corn with mayonnaise, sprinkle with cheese, squeeze a lime wedge over the cob. 
  5. Season with hot sauce and chile powder to taste. 
  6. Enjoy while warm. 

Happy Indigenous Peoples Day! 

P.S. Here’s another interesting fact for you: Archaeologists have concluded that the corn originally grown in the Americas was much better suited for brewing beer than for making bread. I told you all about it—along with the many health benefits of beer—in the August 2021 issue of my monthly Insiders’ Cures newsletter. Not yet a subscriber? Click here to become one! 

Sources: 

“Elote (Mexican Street Corn).” AARP Medicare Supplement, 6/11/21.(blog.aarpmedicaresupplement.com/elote-mexican-street-corn/?utm_source=facebook&utm_medium=social&utm_content=june_11_2021) 

“The Amazing Journey of Maize.” Field Museum Blog11/23/16. (fieldmuseum.org/blog/amazing-journey-maize) 


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