Maize also known as corn, is a large grain plant first domesticated by indigenous peoples in Mexico. The six major types of corn are dent corn, flint corn, pod corn, popcorn, flour corn, and sweet corn.
Maize is widely cultivated throughout the world, and a greater weight of maize is produced each year than any other grain. The United States produces 40% of the world’s harvest; other top producing countries include China, Brazil, Mexico, Indonesia, India, France and Argentina.
Many of the maize varieties grown in the United States and Canada are hybrids. Often the varieties have been genetically modified to tolerate glyphosate or to provide protection against natural pests. Glyphosate is an herbicide which kills all plants except those with genetic tolerance. This genetic tolerance is very rarely found in nature, however, some of the regions in the world, maize is grown using old farming methods without modifying the genes (Non-GMO).
Maize and cornmeal (ground dried maize) constitute a staple food in many regions of the world. Maize is central to Mexican food. Virtually every dish in Mexican cuisine uses maize. In the form of grain or cornmeal, maize is the main ingredient of tortillas, tamales, pozole, atole and all the dishes based on them, like tacos, quesadillas, chilaquiles, enchiladas, tostadas and many more. In Mexico even a fungus of maize, known as huitlacoche is considered a delicacy.
Maize is a major source of starch. Cornstarch (maize flour) is a major ingredient in home cooking and in many industrialized food products. Maize is also a major source of cooking oil (corn oil) and of maize gluten. Maize starch can be hydrolyzed and enzymatically treated to produce syrups, particularly high fructose corn syrup, a sweetener; and also fermented and distilled to produce grain alcohol. Grain alcohol from maize is traditionally the source of Bourbon whiskey. Maize is sometimes used as the starch source for beer. Other uses of maize are Popcorn, Corn flakes etc. Maize meal is also a significant ingredient of some commercial animal food products, such as dog, cattle, and chicken food.