Kitchen Myths

Facts and fiction about food and cooking, by Peter Aitken

A worm in an ear of corn means you can’t eat it

The corn, not the worm! The corn earworm, Helioverpa zea, is the larva, or caterpillar, of a moth. They are almost always one per ear, and inhabit the tip of the ear, feeding on the kernels. I have seen a lot of people at the local farmers’ market rejecting ears of otherwise excellent corn because there’s a worm. What a waste! Organic corn usually has a worm, because spraying with toxic insecticides is the only way to prevent them. All you need to do is cut off the tip of the ear, removing the worm and the damaged kernels, and you’ll be fine. I’d much rather eat an ear of corn that had a worm removed than one soaked with insecticides.

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5 responses to “A worm in an ear of corn means you can’t eat it

  1. Scott September 26, 2011 at 6:51 pm

    Absolutely! We grew tons (literally) of sweet corn where I grew up, and virtually every ear I ever ate had it’s own worm or two at one point. The non-eaten corn was still delicious.

  2. Sarah [NurseLovesFarmer.com] September 7, 2014 at 1:55 pm

    “Soaked” with insecticides is a bit of a stretch, but good to know I can cut the tip off my conventional garden corn that had a worm on it. Planting Bt sweet corn next year to avoid this problem.

  3. Edward Fox July 14, 2016 at 5:41 pm

    I heard that the corn worms are edible too, is this true?

    • kitchenmyths July 15, 2016 at 10:07 am

      Yes, although I do not speak from personal experience. I saw a documentary a while back where Mexican farmers in a town would collectively go thru the fields and remove the worms, which were saved and then became part of a feast.

  4. piblogger August 27, 2016 at 5:51 pm

    Mine came out after it was already boiled . . .

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