Corn is the USA’s most important crop, and the second most important crop around the world after wheat. Rice is the third.
Corn, like all cereals, is a kind of grass.
Corn was first grown by the Indians of Mexico over 7000 years ago and so came to be called Indian corn by Europeans like Columbus.
In the USA only varieties that give multi-colored ears are now known as Indian corn.
Popcorn is a popular snack food. When heated in a saucepan, the kernels make a loud popping’ noise and literally jump out of the pan. The ‘popped’ popcorn can then be eaten straight away, with salt or sugar for extra taste.
The Corn Belt in the American Midwest produces 40% of the world’s corn.
American corn grows up to 3 m tall.
The ear or head of a corn plant is called a cob and is covered with tightly packed yellow or white kernels of seeds. The kernels are the part of the plant that is eaten.
There are seven main kinds of corn kernel: dent corn, flint corn, flour corn, sweet corn, popcorn, waxy corn and pod corn.
Some corn is ground into flour, while some is eaten whole as sweet corn and some is fed to livestock.
Popcorn has no starch, unlike most other corn. When heated, moisture in the kernels turns to steam and expands or pops rapidly.