More of Us Should Eat White Corn
There are a number of good reasons why more of us should eat white corn as a rice substitute. For one, it will help minimize the importation of millions of tons of rice every year from countries like Thailand and Vietnam. It could help save precious dollars for the country.
For another, it could mean better health for the white corn eaters. UP Los Baños researchers like Dr. Artemio Salazar, Dr. Wilma Hurtada and Felicito Rodriguez say that the so-called Quality Protein Maize (QPM) makes for better nutrition and health. They say that white corn of the QPM type contains more protein, more lysine and tryptophan than rice. It also contains more antioxidants, more dietary fiber and minerals. (They hasten to add, however, that the ordinary white corn lacks the essential amino acids, lysine and tryptophan. Fortunately, though, there are QPM white corn varieties that are now available to farmers for planting.)
The Los Baños experts also point out that white corn is one food that has low glycemic index (GI). That’s because white corn is harder to gelatinize and slower to digest. Being so, white corn can lessen the risk of diabetes. That’s because the carbohydrates in corn break down slowly, releasing glucose gradually into the blood stream, according to the researchers.
White corn, according to the Los Baños experts, is also good for overweight people who would like to lose some pounds. They explain that low GI food helps delay hunger pangs, hence the overweight fellow will not have the urge to eat more frequently.
They also add that low GI food is a slow-releasing fuel for the muscles which can extend the endurance of an athlete. And that could be the reason for the superior performance of the likes of Manny Pacquiao and the basketball stars from the Visayas. Of course, it is well known that many Visayans and Mindanaoans love to eat white corn. It is in Luzon where rice eaters should consider shifting to QPM white corn.
Of course, it is heartening to note that Pangasinan is spearheading the promotion of white corn in Luzon as staple food for the people. The Abono Party List headed by Rosendo So has launched last year a provincewide white corn production project. A contest among farmers in each barangay was launched with substantial cash prizes to boot. Corn mills are planned to be installed in many of the towns so that corn grits for cooking would be readily available to the people.
The Pangasinan Pasalubong Center in Carmen East, Rosales town, is now selling white corn grits. And according to Mike Morden, manager of the center, an increasing number of customers are buying the same. It is not uncommon for them to run out of stock.
The Institute of Plant Breeding at UP Los Baños is also helping to popularize white corn as human food. Besides producing the seeds for planting, IPB is actually milling white corn for sale to the public. The price when we last went there was P20 to P22 per kilo, depending on the variety. The Obatampa variety from Mexico is said to have a superior eating quality, hence it is being sold at the higher price.
Wilfredo Abear of the Cebu-based Farmer-Scientists Training Program (FSTP) observes that cooked Obatampa, now also known as IPB Var6, doesn’t spoil easily. It can be kept under ordinary kitchen conditions for two days without spoiling, according to him. And that’s good for farmers who live in the countryside without electricity.
Another advantage for the farmers is that IPB Var6 is an open-pollinated variety. Unlike a hybrid, the farmer can use his harvest as planting material. He does not have to buy the seeds for planting in the next season. Another open-pollinated variety is the IPB Var4 which can produce 4 tons or more per hectare under Cebu conditions where the soil is relatively poor. Of course, in fertile fields, the yield could be much higher.
There is also one hybrid QPM white corn that is being planted by the farmers in the Visayas and other places, especially in the south. This is the Pioneer White from the Pioneer Hi-Bred Company. It is a high yielder, averaging 6 tons per hectare under Cebu conditions, according to Abear.
These three white QPM varieties are now widely planted in Cebu and other provinces where the Farmer-Scientists Training Program is implemented. These include Negros Oriental, Siquijor, Bohol, Leyte, Mindoro and Compostela Valley in Mindanao. These have practically totally replaced the low-yielding Tinigib variety which the farmers in the Visayas and Mindanao had been planting for many years.
Meanwhile, Dr. Wilma Hurtada of the Institute of Human Nutrition and Food of the College of Human Ecology at UP Los Baños recommends that those who are not used to eating white corn can cook a blend of rice and corn. Cooking requires some modification, but easy just the same. Here’s how. Wash the rice blend once or twice, then drain. If using an automatic rice cooker, add one cup of water to one cup of rice blend. If using rice pot over firewood or gas stove, add one-half cup more water to the 1:1 ratio of water to rice. Finish by steaming over low heat.
The same procedure may be followed when cooking corn grits without any rice mixture. Other recommendations from the Los Baños experts: For separate and fluffier cooked grains, use hot water start. To ensure complete gelatinization, soak corn grits first in water for 10 to 15 minutes before cooking. When boiling, cut the mixture lengthwise across the cooking vessel reaching the deepest part to even out water distribution.
There you are. Why not try eating white corn from now on?
By Zac B. Sarian
Photo By : osborneseed.com