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Why is corn a grain?

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  • Why is corn a grain?

    Someone asked the following on my facebook fan page a few weeks ago...

    "why is corn a grain? that's another question I just thought of. the native americans did corn - not sure if they count as the "agricultural era."

    So, what do you guys think?

    I think the first short question is irrelevant. It's kind of like asking... "Why is spinach a vegetable? Well, we made that up...

    But what about the second question... the native americans did eat a lot of corn, right? Were they healthy and robust? Does corn have much gluten? Is it maybe a grain that is ok once in a while if your body does not go crazy after eating a little grain?

    Is corn maybe a paleolithic food? (it does not matter to me... I eat bananas, peas, sugar snap peas, etc. - all are neolithic foods).

    A heads up... I will be quoting my favorite responses for a blog post... thanks guys! It's time to build the community NOW!
    Find me at aToadontheRoad.com. Cheers!

  • #2
    ignoring all the modifications that have been made to maize in the last several centuries, the Native Americans didnt eat it the way we do. we would coll thier concotions nasty if were were being kind.
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    • #3
      So... what you are saying is, it's all the Pilgrims fault!
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      • #4
        The only real reason I used to eat corn on the cob was as an excuse for lapping up loads of melted butter. Now I enjoy the butter without an excuse!
        activate the rhythm, the rhythm that has always been within

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        • #5
          I'm not sure, I've heard corn called a "fruit", but it's been so altered from it's wild state. I can't remember where I read about the original hybridization of corn, but basically ancient mesoamericans found a grass with large "edible" kernels and bred them to make it easier to mill them, not wanting to spend as much time grinding off the tough outer layer of the seed. And... being a grass, I guess that's why it's a grain. Hence "agriculture". The Mayans and Aztecs farmed it heavily, and it spread through out the Western hemisphere.

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          • #6
            Yeah, corn is actually a grass. The big fat cobs are a cultivated bastardization of standard grass seeds. Take a picture of a stalk of wheat - it's the same sort of thing. Corn's just way developed.

            carl's cave

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            • #7
              also, this was too good not to share:



              DERP ON THE COB
              carl's cave

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              • #8
                Modern day hybridized corn is much sweeter than the wild version used by the Native Americans. Also, when you have to grind something up by hand using a rock, you can't really eat all that much of it. They didn't go get a bag of Doritos from the supermarket.

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                • #9
                  Originally posted by Paleobird View Post
                  Modern day hybridized corn is much sweeter than the wild version used by the Native Americans. Also, when you have to grind something up by hand using a rock, you can't really eat all that much of it. They didn't go get a bag of Doritos from the supermarket.
                  No, they ate a shit ton of corn in Mesoamerica.

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                  • #10
                    Native Americains also fared just fine on beans and squashes. And I doubt any paleolithic ansector of ours cooked his mushrooms in butter or cured his bacon and then fried in his frying pan.

                    The idea is to cut out stuff that carries low nutritional load with a high caloric tag and stuff that harms your system. 99% of the time. I believe, corn is in the 'too much calories for just sugar and gods know what else & antinutrients' along with the other garins and grass-seeds.
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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by Leida View Post
                      Native Americains also fared just fine on beans and squashes. And I doubt any paleolithic ansector of ours cooked his mushrooms in butter or cured his bacon and then fried in his frying pan.

                      The idea is to cut out stuff that carries low nutritional load with a high caloric tag and stuff that harms your system. 99% of the time. I believe, corn is in the 'too much calories for just sugar and gods know what else & antinutrients' along with the other garins and grass-seeds.
                      Agreed.

                      Native strains of maize combined with a lifestyle of intense regular physical activity, and LOTS of animal food probably got the carbs burned off pretty well.

                      Modern "Round Up Read" corn, probably not so much.

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                      • #12
                        Yes, modern corn is a whole different creature. Corn is interesting if you're a history buff - it was one of the first "selectively bred" organisms, and today's corn looks nothing like its ancient cousins.

                        There's a good summary here: Quintessence of Dust: They selected teosinte...and got corn. Excellent!

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                        • #13
                          The simple answer is: Grains are the seeds of grasses. Corn is a grass, corn kernels are grains.

                          Mesoamericans treated their corn by soaking it in a limewater (alkaline) solution prior to grinding or cooking. This neutralized the anti-nutrients, making the minerals and other nutrients more bioavailable, helping it to be a healthier source of calories. If you buy masa in the store (corn flour used to make tortillas) it is pretreated with lime in this way (and that is not the fruit).

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                          • #14
                            Originally posted by Barb View Post
                            The simple answer is: Grains are the seeds of grasses. Corn is a grass, corn kernels are grains.

                            Mesoamericans treated their corn by soaking it in a limewater (alkaline) solution prior to grinding or cooking. This neutralized the anti-nutrients, making the minerals and other nutrients more bioavailable, helping it to be a healthier source of calories. If you buy masa in the store (corn flour used to make tortillas) it is pretreated with lime in this way (and that is not the fruit).
                            +1
                            Find me at aToadontheRoad.com. Cheers!

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                            • #15
                              Originally posted by Barb View Post
                              The simple answer is: Grains are the seeds of grasses. Corn is a grass, corn kernels are grains.

                              Mesoamericans treated their corn by soaking it in a limewater (alkaline) solution prior to grinding or cooking. This neutralized the anti-nutrients, making the minerals and other nutrients more bioavailable, helping it to be a healthier source of calories. If you buy masa in the store (corn flour used to make tortillas) it is pretreated with lime in this way (and that is not the fruit).
                              What Barb said.

                              Alton Brown has a couple episodes of corn that is fascinating, and where I first learned about nixtamalization (the treating of maize with limewater).

                              Good Eats S2E14P1: Ear Apparent - YouTube (just about corn)
                              Good Eats Season 10 Ep1 (1/2) - YouTube (about nixtamalization)
                              Last edited by onalark; 08-31-2011, 03:51 PM.
                              Steph
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