Corn is a grass native to America, which the people in Central Mexico began cultivating at least 7,000 years ago. Corn was a staple in the diet of many Native American groups. They used all parts of the corn. The sugary leaves were used as a sort of chewing gum, immature corn was their vegetable and dry, mature kernels were ground into flour. Today, corn is grown on every continent except Antarctica. Corn is the number one grain crop in the United States. Most corn grown in the U.S. is a variety called field corn or dent corn, which is used as livestock feed and processed into a variety of products. The corn most of us eat is called sweet corn.


Corn is planted in the spring from a seed called a “kernel.” The seed will grow into a stalk which then produces ears of corn. The ears of corn mature over the summer. When they are ready to harvest, in late August or early September, they will turn downward to the ground. Farmers use a machine called a combine to harvest the corn. Once in the combine, the ears enter a sheller. The sheller is a metal cylinder that rotates at a high speed and removes all husks and kernels from the cob. The corn is then loaded onto trucks and transported to a nearby grain elevator. The corn is stored at the elevator in bins until it is sold and shipped out for processing. An ear of corn averages 800 kernels in 16 rows. An acre of corn yielding 100 bushels produces approximately 7,280,000 kernels. Illinois and Iowa are the top producing states. 

There are more than 3,500 different uses for corn. Primary products are cornstarch, sweeteners, food and industrial items. There are many edible uses for corn including aspirin, marshmallows, ice cream, cereals, corn chips, cornmeal, baking mixes and more.

Some non-edible products that contain or are made from corn include ethanol, book binding, ink, glue, shoe polish, cosmetics, fireworks, paint, paper, crayons, chalk, toothpaste, soap, candles, batteries and charcoal. 

The MyPlate guidelines consider corn as a member of the vegetable group. Everyone should have 3-5 servings from this group each day. Corn is low in fat and calories and provides almost three grams of dietary fiber per ear. The starch found in corn is a carbohydrate.

Our best customers are Japan, Mexico, Taiwan, Canada, Egypt, and Columbia. The U.S. is the largest field corn exporter. We use 80% of what we produce and export the other 20%.


Field corn (dent corn)

  • Hard shell and full of starch

  • 99% of corn grown in the U.S.


  • Livestock and poultry feed

  • Processed into a variety of products such as:

    • Corn syrup, cornstarch, sorbitol, glue, fireworks, crayons, chalk, cosmetics, ink

Sweet corn 

  • Zea saccharata

  • Less than 1% of the corn grown in the U.S.

  • Sugary seeded type of corn

  • Corn we eat:

    • Corn on the cob, canned corn, frozen corn

  • U.S. is number 1 producer of sweet corn

The corn kernel is composed of 4 main parts

  • Pericarp: Waterproof outer covering

  • Endosperm: Largest part of kernel where energy is stored and it provides starch

  • Germ: Contains the genetic information for the plant, and it is used for corn oil

  • Tip cap: Attaches the kernel to the cob


  • By-products - Something produced in addition to the main product

  • Consumer - A person who purchases goods and services for personal use

  • Distributors - Wholesalers or middlemen engaged in the distribution of a category of goods

  • Goods - Merchandise or possessions 

  • Market - A regular gathering of people for the purchase and sale of provisions, livestock, and other commodities 

  • Natural resources - Materials or substances such as minerals, forests, water, and fertile land that occur in nature and can be used for economic gain 

  • Products  - An article or substance that is manufactured or refined for sale

  • Producer  - A person, company, or country that makes, grows, or supplies goods or commodities for sale

  • Production - The action of making or manufacturing from components or raw materials, or the process of being manufactured 

Maquechou A’La Avoyelles (Corn Soup)
Serves 6

  • 4 chicken bouillon cubes

  • 3 quarts boiling water

  • 2 large onions, chopped

  • 2 medium bell peppers, chopped

  • Salt, pepper and garlic powder to taste

  • 1 2 ½-pound soup bone

  • 1 16-ounce can whole tomatoes, mashed and undrained

  • 1 cup Ragu spaghetti sauce

  • 1 quart fresh or frozen corn 

  1. Dissolve bouillon cubes in water; add onion, green pepper, salt, pepper, garlic powder and meat. Simmer until tender, about 45 minutes.

  2. Add tomatoes and spaghetti sauce; heat gently.

  3. Cook corn separately until tender; add to soup.

  4. Simmer soup about 15 minutes. Serve with homemade bread, if desired.  

Louisiana Farm Bureau Women Cookbook, Page 60
Submitted by Joann Brouillette of Avoyelles Parish