The topic of corn is special to the heart of this countries food insdustry and thus the book due to it's versitility. As far as it's unique traits... it was kind of just chosen. Corn, what we know it to be, is far from what it began in it's humble begginings. Zea Mays, as it can be refered to scientifically, began as just another common grass. Humans found its value as a cereal grain and began to "work" it to benefit he/she supremely. Maize then adapted overtime, into versions we have seen over the past hundreds of years, into a very tall crop producing much more valuable cereal and nutritional harvest. As population grows exponentially, so do our brains in finding corns new frontiers. Whether it's genetically modifying corn to be resistant to pesticides or herbicides and then sprinkling them with a heavy douse of chemicals before we send them for folks to eat or finding new ways to store it, and for longer, humans have been exploiting corn for every penny. Pollan points out that so many products we come in to contact with today contain corn in some format. This may mean corn holding together your remote control or in your gas tank or in your syrup or force feeding it to cows (who biologically would have never eaten) to make them fat for slaughter. Could the same applications given to corn be substituted? Yes. Soybeans and hemp can produce the same effect when worked right. But, corn is the chosen crop. Possibly because it just packs such a nutritional punch for its time and toil and space it takes. As of now, corn is used for everthing and demand is in so it will prevail as golden showers until the money stops flowing that way.