The Remarkable Beginnings And Journey Of The Rare Rainbow-Colored Corn, 'Glass Gem'

First Posted: Jun 29, 2016 07:09 AM EDT

The story of this jewel rainbow-colored corn, which is dubbed as "Glass Gems", begins with one man named Carl Barnes, who set out to search his Native American roots.

Carl Barnes of Oklahoma is now in his 80s. He is half-Cherokee and a half Scotch-Irish ancestry. He is now living with his son, A.V. Barnes, on their homestead in the panhandle of the state, a few miles south of Liberal, Kan.

Barnes started to explore his Cherokee roots when he was in his youth. He was searching the knowledge of his ancestors and of Native American traditions through his grandfather. His pursuit was centered on harvesting, planting and honoring seeds.

Then, he earned a degree in Agricultural Education. He worked on the farm, together with his wife Karen and they both raised a family. He started planting older corn varieties during his adult years to reconnect with his heritage, according to Science Alert.

Barnes then noticed ancestral types of corn re-appearing in his crops. He isolated these and he discovered many of the variations to match up with the traditional corns that had been lost to many of the Native tribes. These referred to those people who had been relocated in the 1800s to what is now Oklahoma. He re-introduced certain corn types to the elders of these tribes and this has helped their people in regaining their cultural identities. For them, the corn is literally the same as their bloodline, their language and their sense of who they are.

He exchanged the ancient corn seed with people he had met and befriended some people all over the country. Barnes is known by his friends by his spiritual name, White Eagle. He stimulated to the most mysterious nature of the corn and its spiritual relationship to human beings. This has led to many profound insights, which he shared inspiring numerous people through the years. This way, the Sacred Seed was accomplishing its work, as reported by Mother Earth News.

Barnes continued displaying his rainbow-colored corn. Then, he met Greg Schoen, a fellow farmer in a gathering in Oklahoma in 1994. Schoen was amazed at the rainbow-colored corn. Barnes gave him the rainbow seeds. Schoen planted the seeds and in 2005, he began growing larger plots with other traditional varieties near Santa Fe.

The rainbow corn mixed with the traditional varieties produced new strains. Every year the corn has more vibrant colors and vivid patterns. Schoen then named the various rainbow-colored corns. In 2007, he named the blue-green and pink-purple corn, "Glass Gems."

In 2009, Schoen gave several varieties of the rainbow corn seeds to Bill McDorman, who owned the Seed Trust based in Arizona. McDorman is also the Executive Director of the Native Seeds/SEARCH, a non-profit conservation organization. He is now producing the Glass Gem Seeds and these can now be purchased online.

So, what is the taste of the rainbow-colored corn?

The rainbow colored corn isn't generally eaten off the cob. People grind the Glass Gem into cornmeal. They also use it in tortillas or grits because it is very starchy or stuffy. The rainbow-colored corn can also be used to make popcorns. On the other hand, it doesn't come out colored. Besides having a nutritious meal with the Glass Gem, it is also great and perfect for ornamental purposes with its attractive colors.

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