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Maize

(Zea Mays)

Corn is a cereal from Central America, most likely Mexico, where it is and has always been the staple food of the native peoples. For the Aztecs, the significance of corn went beyond just a dietary supplement, they also used it to make garlands for ceremonial dances and to adorn the statues of the gods. In the 16th Century, corn arrived and spread throughout Italy, especially in the Po valley where it began to replace millet, eventually becoming the most used grain by the Po Valley farmers. Today, corn is one of the most important agricultural resources in the world – heavily used in the food and livestock industries, as well as in energy (biogas and bioethanol) and bio-polymers.

From an agricultural standpoint, corn is considered highly demanding in terms of heat and water, which has led many to speculate about its growth: in optimal conditions corn grows an abundance of plants and kernels like no other plant can. There are many varieties of corn that are suitable for different needs. The corn used for the popcorn, for example, belong to a sub-species called Everta. This sub-species is made up of primitive corn types compared to the modern, improved varieties. The plants are prolific with ears that are small, yet numerous. The seeds are very small and round, characterized by a completely translucent and highly proteic endosperm.

Since the end of the twentieth century, corn has been subject to numerous genetic modifications, through which the DNA in the genetic make-up of the seed has been manipulated. Two proteins have been introduced. The first one, taken from a microorganism, is toxic for the “European Corn Borer”, one of the most damaging insects for this crop. The second one, creates resistance against one of the most famous active herbicide agents, glyphosate. Unfortunately, this has resulted in a drastic reduction in the biodiversity of this plant and a strong environmental contamination, especially in South America, where the modified genes have now also spread to populations of other wild plants. All of our corn is OGM-free, because we are particularly careful with our selection of seeds and analyze them each and every year before planting them.

 

 



The corn used to make Popcorn is a particular variety of corn that has the characteristic to "pop" when heated, making it a nice snack. When the seed is heated, the water contained inside of it turns into steam, but to prevent any leakage, the outer part of the seed increases the internal pressure. The steam softens the trapped protein and starch content, until the internal pressure becomes too high, at which point the grain "bursts", releasing the starch gel outwards.

 

How to use them:

Put a handful of popcorn in a pan with a little olive oil, cover with a lid and turn on the burner and wait for explosions to begin. After the popcorn is finished popping, it is usually sprinkled with salt, butter or sugar, but there are many other variations, such as caramel or chocolate. It can be eaten hot or cold.