Corn is one of those food items that has many different identities based on a few different things. Botanically, corn is a fruit but it is most commonly referred to as either a vegetable or a grain. According to the USDA, whether corn is classified as a vegetable or grain depends on when it is harvested. When corn is considered a vegetable, it is harvested when it is soft and fresh. You typically enjoy corn like this on the cob, as frozen niblets or canned kernels. When corn becomes fully mature and dry, it is harvested as a grain. This corn can then be ground into cornmeal or made into popcorn. So when you’re enjoying corn tortillas, polenta or cornbread, it would be considered as a grain. Popcorn is considered a whole grain. Depending on how the cornmeal is processed, will determine if it is a whole grain. For any grain to be a whole grain, the bran, germ and endosperm all remain intact. If the grain is milled to remove the bran and the germ, it is no longer a whole grain. To determine whether your cornmeal products are a whole grain, check the Nutrition Facts label on the back of the product. Look for the words “whole corn” or “whole grain corn” to verify that the product is in fact a whole grain.

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