June 21 - Me and my boys

June 21 - Me and my boys

Q: Okay, a little too much information there. But we’re wondering – can you eat this corn?
A: You could, but it probably wouldn’t be very tasty. It’s very starchy and not really meant for humans, at least in that form. The “field” corn on my roof is similar to what you see lining the Interstate highways of the Midwest during the summer. It’s our country’s biggest crop – some 87 million acres were planted this year – so it’s an absolute bedrock of our food supply. Most of that will be fed to pigs, chickens and cattle, and the rest will go toward industrial uses – distilled into ethanol or processed into artificial sweeteners like high-fructose corn syrup, which you probably enjoyed in your Coke today without even realizing it. You can also make whiskey from it – ethanol is basically grain alcohol, a descendant of the “moonshine” from backwoods stills your great-granddaddy may have cooked up until the local sherriff took an axe and went “pow pow pow” to it.

“Sweet” corn – that juicy staple of backyard cookouts – is what you’re after. Grown in much smaller quantities in the U.S., it’s plucked from the stalk while still unripe and has higher sugar content – hence its name. See your local Jewel-Osco or farmers’ market for that. I’m not growing that on my roof, or making moonshine – not yet, anyway.

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