Corn a constant through the years

Published 11:49 am Wednesday, November 14, 2007

By Staff
From the early days of our country, to present day, corn has been a topic of discussion.
This year talk is of high yields and the number of farmers choosing to raise corn instead of other crops, to take advantage of using the grain for fuel.
You might have ears of corn in that Horn of Plenty on your holiday table, or corn stalks tied to a pole by your front door, with pumpkins and a hay bale around the base.
Our area fields are presently being harvested and it is time to give thanks for the bounty.
The Corn Marketing Program of Michigan (CMPM) of the Michigan Corn Growers Association, out of Dewitt, would like to educate Americans about this "homegrown, renewable resource."
"Corn has long been an important commodity to American consumers. Because it was one of the first crops settlers learned to grow in their fields. The Native Americans helped teach many of the new settlers how to plant, raise and harvest corn which helped them survive in the new land.
Today, corn is not only a tabletop favorite and staple, but also an integral part of many other products. Now corn can not only be served on your Thanksgiving plate, but can be a primary component of that plate.
"Polylactic acid, or PLA, is a corn-derived polymer that can be used to create degradable plastics. Nearly 80 billion pounds of plastics are produced in the United States every year, and these plastics have traditionally relied on petroleum-based feedstocks. PLA offers a 100 percent renewable alternative to petroleum-based plastic," said Clark Gerstacker, CMPM vice president and member of the National Corn Growers Association (NCGA) Corn Board.
"In the past few years several companies have announced their switch to corn-based plastic products. Some of these products include plates, clamshell containers, bags, film and plastic wrapping."
Along with developing of corn-based plastics, fabrics and packing materials, ethanol-blended fuels are being chosen and furnaces can be replaced with a cleaner-burning corn heating unit.
Corn appears on our Thanksgiving table not only in a bowl, of steaming kernels, but as an ingredient in fresh bread and rolls.
Dextrose, a corn sugar, helps preserve bread. Corn syrup is also found in salad dressings to make the product easier to pour, and in fruit and vegetable side dishes.
With more ethanol production, a by-product, dried distillers grains, will offer a cheaper feed for the beef, pork and poultry industry.
"A bushel of corn is about 56 pounds, and processing a bushel of corn produces three gallons of ethanol and 17 pounds of the high protein livestock feed DDG. About one third of the corn that goes into the ethanol process comes back to the market as DDG," said Jody Pollok, CMPM executive director.
For more information about this amazing product – corn – visit the web site at