– by Christina Schiavoni
For CSA members who have yet to eat raw sweet corn fresh off the cob, this is a treat not to be missed, especially as part of the ‘No-Cook Sweet Corn Salad’ featured in this week’s newsletter. This salad, as well as the ‘Corn and Black-Eyed Peas Summer Stew’ and the ‘A.M/P.M Corn Cakes’ were all the tasty outcomes of last week’s August Vegetable of the Month Cooking Demonstration featuring – you guessed it – corn! CSA member and chef extraordinaire Helen Baldus led this demo, which was fully attended by CSA members and other members of the Chelsea community eager to learn more about the preparation, cooking, and health benefits of the featured vegetable.
According to the Community Food Resource Center (CFRC), although we call corn a vegetable, it’s really a grain – a domesticated grass in the family Graminae. Also known as maize, corn was originally cultivated from its wild ancestor, teosinte, at least 7000 years ago in Mexico. Since then, corn has spread far across continents and cultures, both for its nutritional value for humans and animals and for its multitude of industrial uses. Corn plays more of a role in out everyday lives than most would imagine. It’s in adhesives, cosmetics, pharmaceuticals, paint, toothpaste, certain types of beer – you name it!
According to CFRC, New York State is one of the biggest producers of sweet corn (i.e., the main type of corn we eat), which is high in A, B, and C vitamins, calcium, iron, and niacin (niacin is important for healthy nerves, skin, and digestion). While there’s no doubt that corn merits its title of August’s ‘Vegetable of the Month,’ it’s always important to consider where ones corn has come from and how it’s been grown. This is because conventionally grown corn is among the most heavily fertilized, heavily pesticide treated, and heavily irrigated crops – with equally heavy fossil fuel usage for its tillage and harvesting. Hard to swallow? Not if you?re swallowing locally and sustainably grown sweet corn like the kind we get from Pete and Deb.