The worms, called corn earworms, are one of the biggest headaches for organic corn growers because it is extremely difficult to prevent them using sustainable practices. Corn earworms are the larval form of an adult moth, which lays a single egg in the green silk of a corn stalk. The eggs hatches and the worm feeds on the silk of the corn for about two weeks, eventually ending up in our market baskets.
Finding a corn earworm while shucking an ear of corn is a nasty surprise, but the corn itself is fine to eat. Just discard the worm and cut off the affected section of the ear before using it. When shopping for organic corn, I try to peek under the silk to make sure there isn't too much earworm damage. Although it isn't hazardous, too much damage means you are paying for the earworm's meal rather than your own!
Do you have any tips for avoiding earworms when shopping for organic corn?
(Originally published July 2011)