Published on Tuesday, 15 October 2013 00:00
Looking like a work of art that snotty rich folks might pay tens of thousands for in an auction, the multi-hued Glass Gem Corn also known as Rainbow Corn is a unique strain of corn that has been cultivated to feature kernels in a myriad of colors that shimmer like tiny pieces of Murano-blown glass.
Carl Barnes, a part-Cherokee farmer from Oklahoma is the man responsible for producing this lovely edible wonder. He noticed that every now and then some of his corn cobs would contain kernels in colors other than the usual shades of yellow. He dedicated his life to creating and perfecting the Rainbow Corn, making different colored kernels appear in more abundance and frequency on his corn cobs. Exactly how long Barnes spent working on this unique maize, how many successive seasons he carefully hand-picked, saved, and replanted is unknown, but his painstaking efforts definitely did not go to nought as people are entranced with his corn considering it a work of art instead of simply food.
Before his death, Barnes entrusted his precious collection of Rainbow Corn to Greg Schoen, a fellow corn breeder who promised him that his amazing discovery would be made known to the world. Schoen safeguarded the dazzling corn and eventually passed on a few unique corn varieties to fellow seedsman Bill McDorman who owned Seed Trust, a small seed company in Arizona. He had never seen an actual Glass Gem Corn cob so out of curiosity, he planted a few seeds and waited for them to grow.
“I was blown away,” McDorman recalled. “No one had ever seen corn like this before.”
McDorman is now the head of Native Seeds/SEARCH
, a non-profit organization with the sole mission of promoting seed conservation, including the Glass Gem Corn.
Native Seeds/SEARCH retails Glass Gem Corn seeds through their website but ever since this corn became an Internet sensation in 2012, its seeds are constantly sold out. In fact, the demand for the Glass Gem Corn is so great that when the organization first started selling them, its website went down from the sudden influx in traffic. The seeds are sold at $7.95 per packet and can be used to make multicolored popcorn or flour, but why would you want to consume something so beautiful when it is better off being admired? The translucent, jewel-colored ears would also make for an awesome gift for a person who has everything.