Is Corn a Vegetable or a Grain?


Is Corn a Vegetable or a Grain?

Wouldn’t you love to start a good argument at the next family barbeque?  If you don’t, somebody else will.  But don’t make the mistake of raising politics or religion. Too dangerous.

With Memorial Day just around the corner, chances are that fresh locally grown white or yellow corn will be on the menu.  What better time to pose the age-old question “Is corn a vegetable or a grain?” When your brother-in-law answers “Neither, it’s a fruit,” you’re off and running.

It’s a fairly simple question that Americans should be able to answer since the United States is the largest grower of corn, producing about 10 billion bushels per year worth about $15 billion. Not only that, but corn is pervasive in the American food supply from Corn Flakes, corn oil and high fructose corn syrup, to corn-fed beef, chicken, pork and now even corn-fed fish.

As Michael Pollan says “If you are what you eat…what you are is corn.

However, the answer is not so simple. In a nutshell, according to Penn State University’s College of Agricultural Sciences, the answer to the question “Is corn a vegetable, a grain or a fruit?” is that it’s all three.

Corn is technically a fruit in that, botanically speaking, what we call grains, like corn, wheat and rice, are caryopses or the dried fruit of a plant. It’s a vegetable if it’s harvested early to be eaten fresh and it’s a grain if harvested only once it’s dried.

Many a debate has been fueled by the confusion.  In New York politicians voted for corn as the state vegetable over objections of a minority grain contingent.

And the “Tomato: fruit or vegetable” question is even more hotly debated.  That contest fortunately has been resolved by none other than the United States Supreme Court.  In 1893, the Court decided that the tomato is a vegetable regardless of what a botanist might think.

You don’t have to take the issue to the Supreme Court.  But you could make the following corn, tomato and bean salad, and wait for someone to ask, “Are beans a vegetable or a fruit?” Your work is done.

Corn, Tomato and Black Bean Salad

• 1/3 cup lime juice
• Zest of one lime
• ½ cup extra virgin olive oil
• 2 cloves garlic, minced
• 1 tsp. unrefined sea salt
• 1/8 tsp. cayenne pepper
• 3 cups cooked black beans, cooled
• 2 cups fresh corn kernels (or defrosted frozen kernels)
• 1 cup diced red onion
• 1 avocado, peeled, pitted and diced
• 1 yellow or orange bell pepper, diced
• 2 cups grape tomatoes, halved
• ½ cup chopped fresh Italian flat leaf parsley

Place lime juice, zest, olive oil, garlic, salt and cayenne in a small jar. Cover and shake until well combined.

Combine beans, corn, avocado, bell pepper, tomatoes, onion and parsley. Pour dressing over salad and stir gently until everything is well coated.


Article Source: GreenMedInfo

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Margie King is a holistic health coach and graduate of the Institute for Integrative Nutrition. A Wharton M.B.A. and practicing corporate attorney for 20 years, Margie left the world of business to pursue her passion for all things nutritious. She now works with midlife women and busy professionals to improve their health, energy and happiness through individual and group coaching, as well as webinars, workshops and cooking classes. She is also a professional copywriter and prolific health and nutrition writer whose work appears as the National Nutrition Examiner and as Philadelphia Nutrition Examiner. To contact Margie, visit