Consumer complaints linking the consumption of high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) to obesity have prompted a number of American food companies to use cane sugar instead of corn syrup in their products. Because the fuss is associated with HFCS (which is called “ glucose-fructose” on food labels in Canada, perhaps escaping some scrutiny here) I don't know if there are many such products on sale in Canada. I also doubt that companies have cut back on other corn derivatives in their products, for instance, corn starch. Anyway, at least more people are talking about corn in food. It is a lot easier to explain a corn allergy now than it was 10 years ago.
OntarioCorn.org has lots of statistics about corn as a commodity crop, including Statscan data on how many acres and tons of corn have been grown in Canada in each of the past 100 years.
I can't resist adding some botanical tidbits about corn, given that I am a professional researcher in the history and philosophy of science (Ph D) with a B. Sc. in botany.
Corn plants bloom in southern Ontario in mid-July. Corn pollen bears an uncanny resemblance to the Death Star (from Star Wars). It is also huge, as pollen grains for wind-pollinated plants go. Its large size means that most of it falls relatively close to where it is produced. (Check out this very detailed analysis of corn pollen dispersal (large PDF) for more details). Palynologists (people who study pollen) and archaeologists working together have used this information to locate First Nations archaeological sites in southern Ontario. Whenever they find corn pollen in the layers of soil deposited over time at the bottom of lakes they can infer that corn was being cultivated nearby, and when.
The Toronto-area expert on this subject is Jock McAndrews, professor emeritus at the University of Toronto. Look at his lab page for a list of archaeology-related articles, mostly related to Crawford Lake, such as:
McAndrews, J.H. and C.L. Turton. 2007. Canada geese dispersed cultigen [i.e. corn] pollen grains from prehistoric Iroquoian fields to Crawford Lake, Ontario. Palynology (accepted).
Similar research is being done in Alabama. (The site also features a photo of a crushed fossil corn pollen grain).
Another article about corn pollen dispersal: Aylor, DE, Schultes, NP, and Shields, EJ. 2003. An aerobiological framework for assessing cross-pollination in maize. Agricultural and Forest Meteorology. 119 (3-4): 111 - 129.
Michael Pollan, Omnivore's dilemma (2006)
A good read about food in general. The first chapter describes the prevalence of and dependence on corn in the food industry in the USA. Pollan also explains how hybrid corn is grown and processed.
Margaret Visser, Much depends on dinner (1986)
An entertaining food history book, though some parts of it are a bit dated by now. Chapter one gives some of the back story about how corn became such an important food crop in North America, starting with various native peoples who first cultivated it.
There's a new movie coming out called King Corn. It is about how corn products are practically everywhere in American foods. The trailer (click above) is full of scary shots of corn!
And, just for fun, here's something else you might want to know: corn starch is good for making fireballs! Definitely don't try this at home!