To me, no other food is as quintessentially "summer" as corn-on-the-cob (a garden-fresh tomato would be the runner-up). Nothing is sweeter than locally grown Ontario corn - I eat ears of it at a time - sometimes that’s all I have for dinner! I will admit, the summer is the only time of year I actually eat corn in large quantities, as I believe the fresh organic vegetable is really the only way to go.
Corn, also known as "maize" traditionally, is probably one of the first plants to be domesticated and grown in large crops. It is an ancient staple food for the people of North & South America, and has become central to the diet when introduced to foreign environments as well - including the African continent. Unfortunately, the corn that was cultivated thousands of years ago and nourished whole civilizations - could not be farther from the crop that is mass produced today - it really is a totally different food/plant. If any of you have read Michael Pollan’s books, you will have learned about the genetically modified, pesticide-laden "grain" I am talking of. Corn is a hugely important resource in the western world - as a raw grain it feeds most of the livestock we eat, and processed corn "products" can be found in probably 75-80% of the packaged foods that make up the SAD - "Standard (North) American Diet". Think of ingredients such as high-fructose corn syrup, cornstarch, dextrose - the sugars and starches in corn have been processed and modified in every which way - literally. We can use corn to make everything from food to plastic, to fuel for our cars. Bottom-line, corn is a tremendous modern-day resource.
What I love about locally-grown summertime corn, is how it gets me back in touch with the food; face-to-face. I watch the corn plants grow higher and higher all summer, on car rides north to the country I look out across corn fields and my mouth waters at the thought of it…..and then that amazing day when it is first sold at the road-side stand. I carefully choose my ears - I like them smaller, with nice dark green husks and golden corn silk from the top. Perfection. This corn - in its "whole-food" form is so different from the stuff more frequently bought in the grocery store. Nutritionally, it is miles above the conventionally grown, processed, vitamin-devoid corn. It is naturally an excellent source of antioxidants, beta carotene, Vitamin B3 (or niacin) and dietary fibre. Corn is a source of both insoluble, and soluble fibres - which keeps our GI tract humming and the friendly bacteria (aka "flora") in our guts happy.
Although you could say a lot of negative things about "corn" - and I am a believer in minimizing our intake of the processed stuff (many have sensitivities and allergies to the GMO crop that manifests in multiple ways) - have no fear about enjoying the fresh organic crop that Fresh City Farms has provided! For added health benefits (although butter is so delicious) - try your steamed ears with raw olive oil or flaxseed oil. A squeeze of lime, freshly minced herbs & chili - what more can I say - it really is summer food at its best! Enjoy!
Bronwyn Hill, ND is a Naturopathic Doctor & food lover. She is currently in practice in Toronto's Forest Hill Neighbourhood, at Mahaya Forest Hill Integrative Health. She specializes in using food as medicine, acupuncture & traditional chinese medicine & botanicals; and has particular experience treating digestive concerns, women's health concerns including menopause, stress management, insomnia, healthy detoxification, and chronic respiratory conditions including asthma. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org . Follow her on Twitter @drbronwynnd.