Humans began cultivating corn in what is now Mexico approximately 9,000 years ago. By
500 A.D. corn production had spread to the Iroquis, who lived in what is now New York
In ancient times, corn cobs were only about the size of your thumb. Through selective
breeding, humans massively expanded their size to what is considered normal today.
America is the world's largest producer of corn. In fact, the U.S. produced 42% of the
world's total corn in 2005. China is number two, with approximately 19% of world
Corn is America's number one crop in terms of both volume and value. Corn production
is actually more than double any other crop. Iowa, Illinois, Nebraska and Minnesota
account for about half the U.S. corn production. Over half of this crop is used for animal
feed (58%), 25% for export, only 17% for both human food and industrial use (ethanol).
Florida, California, Georgia, Washington and New York account for about 66% of the
fresh sweet corn produced for human consumption.
Corn production per acre in the U.S. has increased from 24 bushels in per acre in 1931 to
74 bushels in 1965, to 134 bushels in 1998, to 154 bushels per acre in 2008. This was
achieved mostly through genetically modified varieties and synthetic fertilizers.
In the early 20th century, a farmer could hand pick approximately 100 bushels of corn in
a nine-hour day. Today, a modern combine can pick this amount in 7 minutes.
Corn in America is big business and with that comes concerns about monopolies, price
fixing, and exploitation of farmers. Two companies (DuPont and Monsanto) represent
58% of the seed corn market in the U.S., much of it expensive genetically modified
According to Monsanto's website "Individuals or families own 82 percent of corn farms.
Another 6 percent are family-held corporations." However, only three companies (Archer
Daniels Midland, Bunge, and Cargill) control 90% of the corn market. This has lead some
to accuse them of price fixing and other manipulations of the market.
The value of corn in a $4 box of cornflakes (at $6.00 per bushel) is about 9 cents. The
farmer that grew the corn received less than 2 cents.
Corn products are ubiquitous, (but often well hidden) in the forms of corn syrup
(sweeteners) and starches. Over 3,000 grocery products alone contain corn in one form or
Bad press involved with over consumption of high fructose corn syrup has led the
industry into a marketing gimmick to push the FDA to allow them to rename "corn
syrup" as "corn sugar." However, scientific analysis seems to prove there are no
fundamental health differences between corn syrup and "regular" sugar…. Both can
lead to similar health problems if over-consumed.
Corn is wind pollinated with each tassel producing around 5 million grains of pollen. The
occasional "skips" seen in fresh corn is attributable to unfertilized corn seed that does
not fully mature.
The world record for corn eating is 33 and a half ears in 12 minutes.
An ear of corn averages about 800 kernels in sixteen rows. There is one "silk" for each
There are about 1,300 kernels to a pound of corn.
Fresh corn on the cob will lose approximately 40% of its sugar in only 6 hours at room
temperature storage (it is rapidly converted to starch).
Corn is a member of the grass family, and is therefore relatively closely related to regular