Corn is much maligned in public health because of its use in stuffing beef cattle till they fart. And of course high-fructose corn syrup. But corn doesn’t have to be all bad, so let’s take a moment to look at the bright side.
An American maize researcher in Mexico is working with New York chefs to get specialty strains of maize into restaurant use. These are the old varieties for which there is no modern market, but which are especially well-suited for particular purposes: masa, posole, chips).
Building a new customer base to help preserve old maize varieties is a triple-win for public health.
First, safeguarding varieties serves as a biologic reserve for the inevitable time when the dominant variety succumbs to a pest or virus. The public health implications of biological diversity are clear to anyone who knows their potatoes.
Second, providing a new market for old crops helps support labor-intensive traditional agriculture in Mexico.
Third, well, variety is the spice of life. Consumers in New York will benefit from more and better varieties of corn. And although corn rightly gets a bad rap in public health for its derivates and use as animal feed, it’s hard not to see the great upside to healthy, homemade food at Masafest.
This is corn as it should be, not the frankenfood it’s become.