Sunday, May 15, 2016

May 15, 2016 - Magic Dent

The farmers have already plowed their fields, and soon the seeds will be sown.  This particular field will be getting corn, not the sweet corn you buy in the market but what is known as “dent,” or field corn.  Dent has a very thick skin, unlike sweet corn, and is comparably very hard.  You couldn’t cook it long enough to ever bite into it like an ear of sweet corn.

Dent is starchy, hard corn, and more dent is grown in the United States than any other corn, or any other grain for that matter.  Dent is the backbone of the world of agriculture.  From this grain, we get ground cornmeal for bread, corn chips, and tortillas.  We also get corn starch, corn sugar, and corn syrup.  We get ethanol and dozens and dozens of industrial uses from it, including cosmetics, food additives, soaps, etc.

Where the magic dent will grow.
Most importantly, however, is the use of dent corn for animal feed.  You know, corn has gotten a really bad rap that it doesn’t deserve.  Yes, if you feed an animal too much corn, it will grow too fat.  But it is a great way to help feed animals and “warm” them up in the winter.  My chickens always love cracked dent because of the quick energy and “heat” they get from it, which can make the difference between life and death in the cold Maine winter.

Dent corn--or any corn--has a lot of anti-nutritive qualities for humans that can only be neutralized by soaking the corn in a caustic substance such as lime or lye.  These substances break open the outer shell, which is then washed away, leaving the edible inside available and freeing up vitamins that are otherwise unusable.

How the ancient peoples of the world knew this . . . is anyone’s guess, but they did know it and they did soak their corn--always.  Somehow they knew how to break through the tough skin.  Somehow they knew that corn was anti-nutritive without first “processing” it with lime.  I doubt very much they did any laboratory experiments.  It’s too bad that many Americans in the deep south in the early part of the last century did not have this knowledge.  It could have saved them from developing debilitating pellagra--which was at an epidemic level at that time--because the niacin in the corn they ate was bound up in the untreated shell.

But in any event, we know now what the natives always knew.  And how they knew it . . . is again, anyone’s guess.  What helpful spirit informed them on how to break through the corn seeds’ resistance?  It’s a subject for discussion over a glass of wine after a dinner filled with delicious tortillas.

Would you believe, though, that this is not an article about corn?  Absolutely not.  You see, I couldn’t help but notice that while the farmers are still waiting to sow their seeds, Mother Nature has already produced her first harvest.  Behold the field of a million dandelions behind the cornfield, filled with tremendous nutrition in the leaves, medicine in the roots, and sustenance for the bee population.  No matter how much we’ve figured out how to “crack the code” of using foods wisely, such as corn, Mother Nature is always a thousand steps ahead of us.

When I look out my window, I feel as if a giant has prepared his delicious salad to eat.  He has picked up his pepper mill to crank over the greens, but instead of peppercorns coming out, someone has filled the whole mill with yellow dandelions.  The giant is beside himself when he looks at his salad.  Now the field is “peppered” with dandelions, and a very mischievous sprite is hiding from a giant and laughing ever so hysterically.  She had better not laugh too loud though, fee-fi-fo-fum . . .

[Always be certain that the corn products you buy show in the ingredients that the corn has been treated with lime.  Otherwise, you are eating an anti-nutritive product that will strip your body of nutrients.]

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