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We're up to our ears in sweet corn

Dispatch/Argus Photo By John Greenwood

Homegrown sweet corn picked fresh daily can be found at farmer's markets and roadside stands throughout the Quad-Cities during the summer. Paul McGinnis stands by a wagon full of sweet corn at the McGinnis Mellon Market in Thomson.

A few hundred years ago, the Iroquois in upper New York state grew a variety of sweet corn whose kernels turned blue as they matured.

Today's sweet corn may not turn blue, but it's just as good. Whether it's an all yellow, white or bi-colored variety called sugar dot, peaches and cream or ambrosia, people will brake quickly and turn sharply after spotting a sign that reads ``sweet corn.''

A pot of hot water, some butter and salt is all it takes to turn the ears of hybrid maize into an entire meal. Why the vegetable is so celebrated is not known.

Each year, farmers and gardeners grow tons of seed that takes about 80 days to mature after planting. Farmers usually grow some for themselves and some to sell. Organizations grow it to sell as a fundraiser.

Doug DeBuysere of Ford and Sons in Geneseo said they sell more than 1,500 pounds of sweet corn each year. Most is the bi-colored variety, he said.

``Different people will tell you different things about which kind is best,'' Mr. DeBuysere said. ``A white sweet corn was all the rage on the East Coast a few years ago. It all depends ... but I would say that most people prefer the bi-colored.''

-- By Pam Berenger (February 9, 1998)

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