Glass Gems

So, you tell me:

Is this jewelry?

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Photo courtesy of Nativeseeds.org

Or food?

Honestly, I believe it could pass as both, but the gorgeous “gems” you see are, indeed, edible.

This is an heirloom variety of corn, aptly named “glass gem.”

According to Native Seeds, a nonprofit seed conservation organization in Arizona, the roots of the Glass Gem variety can be traced to an Oklahoma farmer with a calling: corn.

“Barnes had an uncanny knack for corn breeding. More specifically, he excelled at selecting and saving seed from those cobs that exhibited vivid, translucent colors. Exactly how long Barnes worked on Glass Gem—how many successive seasons he carefully chose, saved, and replanted these special seeds—is unknown,” reports Stephen Thomas of Native Seeds. “But after many years, his painstaking efforts created a wondrous corn cultivar that has now captivated thousands of people around the world.”

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Photo courtesy of Nativeseeds.org

The kernels of Glass Gem are ideal for popping or grinding into cornmeal, and thanks to the efforts of conscientious seed savers, you can buy and grow your own. Seed packets are currently available at the Native Seeds shop.

Native Seeds encourages everyone who grows Glass Gem corn to rejoin the ritual of seed saving by setting aside your favorite selections for replanting the following year. “Share seed with your friends and neighbors, organize a seed swap, or start a seed library in your community, they suggest. “As Carl Barnes has taught us, all it takes is one person to create a more colorful, diverse, and abundant world—one seed at a time.” Continue reading

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