For me August in Greece is totally connected with ‘panigyria’ – religious festivals – in the villages. Food in panigyria is totally related to the products of the season. First things first, the number one vegetable in this period is corn. Fresh, sweet, and juicy corn is ready in August – and I cannot resist it. Barbecued or boiled corn is the best nightlife meze for children and grown-ups for many reasons.
Corn is one of the most popular cereals, native to North and Central America but grown in countless varieties worldwide. Do you remember the story of Pocahontas? Well, it is not far from reality. Corn is ‘gold’ for anyone who can cultivate it. U.S. corn exports were $9.2 billion in 2020 and that year the United States was the largest producer and exporter of corn. It is a goldmine for the economy but also for your body.
In 100 gr. of boiled or roasted corn (73% is water) there are 3.4 g of protein, 21 g carbs, 4.5 g sugar, 2.4 fiber, and only 1.5 g of fat. Depending on the type of core, its sugar is from high to low or medium on the glycemic index (that shows how quickly carbs are digested, meaning a high glycemic index is unhealthy for your blood sugar). Despite the sugar in sweet corn, it is not a high-glycemic food, ranking low or medium on the glycemic index. Fiber is also high in corn. Keep in mind that around 15 g of fiber (one bag of 100 g pop corn) covers approximately half the daily value you need. This is why I say that there is no such thing as ‘bad food’. The protein content of corn is not so high, like in most cereals. Vitamins and minerals are appear in fair amounts, however, depending on the type. Pop corn is rich in minerals like manganese, phosphorus, magnesium, zinc, and copper. Magnesium and copper are elements that help with many chronic illnesses like heart disease. Sweet corn is richer in vitamins like B5, B9 (folic acid or folate, which are important in pregnancy), B6 and B3 (niacin). Also, it has potassium, important for heart health. Antioxidants are not missing in this delicious plant – polyphenols, anthocyanins, zeaxanthin (eye health), lutein (eye health), phytic acid (helps in the absorption of minerals like zinc and iron).
I did not give too much thought when I enjoyed roasted corn at the panigyria, but now I know that most of the time, behind a traditional given there are reasons, facts, and maybe unknown science ‘whys’. It is the collective knowledge of a place, given in convenience foods – but also in healthy forms.
* The above is not medical advice but mere suggestions for improving your diet. Before reach herbal use you should consult your doctor, especially those who have health issues, are pregnant or are under the age of 6.
Evropi-Sofia Dalampira holds a PhD in Agricultural Economics and an MSc in Botany-Biology.