All three types of corn (sweet corn, popcorn, and field corn) can be eaten when fresh, be dried and ground or be popped. Field corn is sold in three basic forms, cornmeal, grits and hominy. Cornmeal is ground dried field corn. It can be made from white, yellow or blue corn and is used for baking, to make cornmeal mush or as a coating for foods.

Like any type of ground grain – you can buy whole grain cornmeal or refined cornmeal. Most cornmeal sold in the grocery store is de-germinated (refined), so try to buy it at a natural foods store. Not only does stone ground cornmeal contain more nutrients, it also has a much fuller, richer flavor. When you buy stone ground cornmeal, store it in the freezer so that it doesn’t turn rancid. Old cornmeal won’t hurt you but it can develop a slightly bitter flavor. De-germinated cornmeal, like white flour or white rice has a much longer shelf life, and can be stored in your kitchen cabinet.

When purchasing corn in any form, it is important to keep in mind the issues of genetic modification as well as the pesticides used to grow corn. A sure fire way to insure that you are not eating genetically modified foods is to purchase heirloom varieties.

Recipes: Grilled Gorgonzola Polenta with Portobello Ragout and Sage, Herbed Posole Salad with Dried Cranberries, Homemade Creamed Sweet Corn