Corn: Is it a Vegetable or a Grain?

Everywhere you look corn is popping up at your local farmers market, in the grocery store, and in our tried and true pantry items. But the question is: is corn a vegetable or a grain? Well, it depends! We see fresh corn on the cob, frozen corn, canned corn, corn meal, and popcorn. What do they all have in common? They come from the same plant, just different varieties and are picked at different times of ripeness.


Corn is a vegetable

When you hear sweet corn, it is classified as a vegetable on MyPlate. The vegetable type of corn comes from a sweet corn plant variety that is picked at its young, early stage where the kernels are tender and juicy. Even as a vegetable, corn is a starchy vegetable, meaning it has a high concentration of carbohydrates. Yet, it still provides valuable nutrients like fiber, Vitamin A, and potassium.

Corn is a grain

When you reach for the dried popcorn kernels or cornmeal on the pantry shelves, that corn is classified as a grain. The grain type of corn comes from a variety of corn plant that is left to grow and mature longer. Those once tender and juicy kernels become more starchy (like a grain), tougher, and dry. Added bonus, cornmeal is a WHOLE GRAIN, meaning it contains fiber and minerals that white flour doesn’t have.

So depending on the ripeness and variety, corn can be both a vegetable and a grain. So, add corn to your balanced meals this summer starting with this Sweet Corn Salsa.


Find more seasonal, no-cook recipes in the Market Fresh in a SNAP! recipe book.


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