If you hear the word “corn” and think of genetically modified organisms (GMOs), you’re not alone, and there’s good reason for that. Ninety-two percent of field corn grown in the U.S. is genetically modified.8 But field corn and popcorn are different, and popcorn seeds have not yet been genetically modified, according to GMO expert Jeffrey Smith.9
There’s some risk that GMO sweet and field corn pollen can blow into popcorn fields and contaminate popcorn with genetically modified materials, according to the Organic Consumer Association. However, Smith says the risk is slight.10 There are other reasons to choose organic kernels, though. Conventional farmers grow corn in vast monocultures, making it susceptible to insect and fungal damage. That’s why it tends to be a heavily sprayed crop.11
Yellow and white popcorn are the most commonly grown types of popcorn. You can also buy heirloom kernels, which come in various colors including red, white, blue, and black. (All popcorn looks white when popped.) Heirloom kernels are often more nutritious and have more flavor and complexity than yellow and white popcorn.12 By choosing them, you help to preserve traditional corn cultures.13 Corn was the most important food in the Americas for thousands of years, and many cultures consider it sacred.1415
On the next page learn how to prepare popcorn.