A CORNucopia of CORN- how damn much are we growing???

I always think of corn as the perfect example a foodstuff that we grow and use and eat so much of, it is beyond my own personal understanding.

Leaving aside what we may EXPORT… all the following things are made primarily of corn and corn by-products. And we have PLENTY of all of these things… for 300 million of us. 365 days a year (and I know that corn is used in smaller quantities in a ridiculous number of other things as well, these are just the obvious things with corn as a main ingredient/component)

Fresh corn
frozen corn
canned corn
corn meal
tortilla chips
corn chips
Cheetos
cornbread
corn oil
corn syrup (how many billions of gallons? And how many tons of corn does it take to make a liquid ton of corn syrup? It’s in EVERYTHING)
cornstarch
tortillas
corn flakes
grits
corn meal
and more millions of tons to FEED cows and chickens and pigs and horses.

So. How damn much of this stuff are we growing? it seems impossible that we can grow not only enough, but more than enough. and have plenty of room to grow the bazillion tons of wheat and soybeans that we need to grow to do all the bazillion things we do with those major products.

How is it possible?

For the answer to these and many other questions, may I present the bible of all things corn:

The World of Corn (warning: PDF)

According to Wikipedia 2007 U.S. corn production was 332,092,180 Tonnes (36606521001.4 Sh. Tons 2000lb.) and total world production was 784,786,580 Tonnes (86507024713.4 Sh. Tons).
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Maize

You forgot ethanol and PLA (used as an alternative to petro-based plastic and synthetics).

You need to read The Omnivores Dilemma.

This is an interesting documentary that addresses some of this: King Corn.

Take a ride through South Dakota, Minnesota and Illinois (just for starters) during the summer. It is a profound example of agribusiness at its best. They plant the corn so dense that it almost looks like there are no rows. You can literally get lost in a field. If you get up on a rise you can see corn as far as the eye can see. The silos are huge (I mean HUGE) and are built next to railroads so that hopper cars can transport the corn.

If you have any appreciation for things done on a large scale, it is awesome just to see it.

And Iowa, of course. Where there isn’t corn, there is soybeans. You can ride around for hours and see nothing but.

Most often you’ll see a two crop rotation. Corn this year, Beans next year.

I second this suggestion.

For those who didn’t follow up the links (I’m sure they address this, but I haven’t either), let me observe that a lot of the corn grown is animal fodder, varieties of corn which grow well and feed herbivores adequately but which are not enjoyable human food. This ‘field corn’ (as opposed to sweet corn) is also probably the source of much of the corn syrup, corn starch, etc. – the processed corn products partially listed above, as well as ethanol and other corn-based fuelstuffs.

I wish I could get my hands on the field corn when it’s fresh - I really dislike the way corn has been bred to taste like candy. I would like to taste fresh corn on the cob that tastes related to the corn that is used in corn chips, tortillas, etc. No SUGAR. A savory corn.

I wonder if there are heirloom varieties that are more “corny” and less sweet?

Sounds like a separate question…cafe society? Or GQ?

It;s tough and bland. I would not call it “savory”.