There’s more to corn than yield

flint corn

Photo by Flickr user Wanye Surber [angrywayne], used under a Creative Commons license (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

Last week while I was away (more on that in some forthcoming posts), I caught a story on NPR that focuses on a delicious heirloom variety of corn.

As Allison Aubrey describes,

chef [Dan] Barber made an arrangement to start growing the New England heirloom corn at the farm next to his restaurant. And for the past eight years, farmer Jack Algiere has overseen its cultivation.

During my visit, Algiere showed me one of the golden-hued cobs still growing on the stalk. “It will turn a golden orange when it’s dry,” Algiere said.

The vibrancy of this yellowish-orange pigment is indicative of high concentrations of beneficial called carotenoids, which make this corn appealing for its nutritional value. And it’s also fairly high in protein.

So why did farmers stop growing this corn? For everything that New England Eight Row Flint corn has going for it in terms of flavor, its big downside is that it doesn’t produce many cobs. It’s a low-yield corn.

I highly recommend the full piece; check out text and audio versions here.

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