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Corn kernels are the seeds of maize. Though technically a grain, maize kernels are used in cooking as a vegetable or starch.
One ear of corn contains roughly 800 kernels in 16 rows. One hundred bushels of corn can contain upwards of 7,280,000 kernels.
Corn is a popular food throughout the world in many forms; it is used in breakfast cereals in the Western world (as corn flakes) and it is a grain that can be eaten raw off the cob, although it is usually preferred cooked. In America, for economic reasons, corn is the basis of many products, in the form of high fructose corn syrup, in favor of cane sugar.
The kernel of maize has a pericarp of the fruit fused with the seed coat referred to as "caryopsis", typical of the grasses, and the entire kernel is often referred to as the "seed". The cob is close to a multiple fruit in structure, except that the individual fruits (the kernels) never fuse into a single mass. The grains are about the size of peas, and adhere in regular rows round a white, pithy substance, which forms the ear. An ear can commonly hold 600 kernels and be 7 inches (178 millimetres) in length. They are of various colors: blackish, bluish-gray, purple, green, red, white and yellow. When ground into flour, maize yields more flour, with much less bran, than wheat does. It lacks the protein gluten of wheat and, therefore, makes baked goods with poor rising capability.
Corn kernels are readily available in bulk throughout maize-producing areas. Transportation and packaging of dried clean corn kernels to non-producing areas adds to the cost.
Corn as a biofuel
Corn kernels are used as pelletized fuel for pellet stoves and furnaces. Corn kernels are a natural pellet, which gives them an economic advantage over other man-made biomass pellets and wood pellets.
The use of corn and other grains as a renewable biofuel may have environmental and cost benefits, compared to other energy source, and may create additional forms of revenue for farmers and other economic industries. However, the use of corn as a fuel stock may may increase the price of corn and have adverse effects on corn as a food stock. It should also be noted that, although it is assumed that biofuels have a small carbon footprint and are therefore more environmentally friendly than other fuel sources, their production and distribution may actually have greater environmental impact than fossil fuels.
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