Orange corn wins innovation showcase

Evan Rocheford (far right) receives the winning prize at the Ag Bioscience Startup Showcase in Indianapolis.

INDIANAPOLIS — Orange corn is a nutritious, naturally selected variety of corn that’s now available in the United States through Purdue-affiliated startup NutraMaize.

The company was the winner of this year’s Ag Bioscience Startup Showcase, an event hosted by AgriNovus Indiana and FoundryX on April 23.

Co-founder Evan Rocheford took home a $2,000 prize.

“If you make corn better, you fundamentally improve the American diet,” Rocheford said. “That’s exactly what we’re doing. Orange corn is significantly more nutritious than white or yellow corn.”

The dark orange color of the corn comes from high levels of carotenoids, the natural antioxidant pigments found in nature that give yellow, orange or red color to fruits and vegetables, such as carrots.

The human body converts certain carotenoids, such as beta-carotene, into vitamin A, which promotes eye health and supports the immune system.

“Most Americans are at a higher risk for developing vision loss as they age because they don’t eat enough carotenoids,” Rocheford said. “A single serving of orange corn can effectively double the daily intake of a typical American.

“Orange corn isn’t just better for you, it’s also better tasting. Chefs and consumers describe it as having a rich, nutty buttery flavor.”

Not only is orange corn a great product, the story behind it is great, he said.

Rocheford’s father, Torbert, a Purdue professor, spent the last 20 years developing orange corn in an effort to alleviate malnutrition in Africa.

The duo co-founded NutraMaize to commercialize the corn in the United States.

Orange corn wins innovation showcase

Professor Torbert’s Orange Corn Grits are the first product being marketed by NutraMaize, a company commercializing a variety of orange corn. The corn was developed by Torbert Rocheford, a professor at Purdue University.

NutraMaize is marketing the corn under the brand name “Professor Torbert’s Orange Corn,” and it is available at ProfessorTorberts.com and on Amazon.

“The response was overwhelmingly positive,” Torbert said.

“I had people tell me that the orange corn made the best grits and cornbread they had ever eaten. So, I thought it made a lot of sense to offer it to Americans, especially since it might help encourage adoption in Africa.”

Long-term, NutraMaize plans to sell its corn as an ingredient to food processors that produce widely consumed products like breakfast cereals and snack foods.

Learn more at www.nutramaize.com.

Erica Quinlan can be reached at 800-426-9438, ext. 193, or equinlan@agrinews-pubs.com. Follow her on Twitter at: @AgNews_Quinlan.

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