I love Long Island sweet corn. Do you know New York State is number 17 in corn production in the United States? Some people love the “Finger Lakes” region’s corn, experts say Iowa grows the best tasting corn, but I love Long Island sweet corn. October is when the last of the east end grown corn starts disappearing from the local farmstands. This is a time for reflection for me. It brings me back to my first experiences with corn fields.
In 1959 my dad along with some friends bought 24 acres of cornfields in Kent, New Jersey. They wanted to clear it and create a horse farm and horse track. When I was six years old I remember walking up to the edge of the field and staring at the tall cornstalks and even grabbing a few ears of corn. At that time I was told it was junk corn, corn for livestock not humans. When they built the track, they left the cornfields in the middle. We used to love to play and hide in the cornfields. However, there were all types of bugs and insects all over the place.
Corn mazes are in full bloom at this time of year. They are all over the east end and are now open to the public. I believe the mazes are wonderful Fall outdoor activities for children and adults alike.
Now when I drive through the east end, I always stare at the still standing cornfields. Occasionally you see the huge machinery harvesting the corn. It’s hard not to slow down the car for a few seconds and watch. I have my corn viewing spots. There are the fields off North Main in Wainscott with the ocean view. Then there are the fields off Scuttlehole Road in Bridgehampton. I love looking up at the hilly field west on Stephen Hands Path just east of Route 114 in East Hampton Village, to name a few.
Over the summer, all of us who traverse the back roads of the east end have watched the farm fields. They start soil brown. Then they sprout green shoots that grow all summer majestically into the fields of corn. I love those particular rows where each farmer plants his corn. Who doesn’t enjoy watching the tall cornstalks blow gently in the fields? It is rural America touching our souls.
The Department of Agriculture claims an acre can yield somewhere around 3500 pounds of corn or 85 bushels. In 2022 the projected return on corn in the U.S. is $701 per acre! Soybean yield in 2022 is projected to be $515 an acre. For trivia folks, as of 2021 the leading states for corn production are Indiana, Kansas, South Dakota, Ohio, Missouri, and Wisconsin. Amazingly #1 – Indiana produces almost twice as much corn as #5 – Wisconsin.
The United States still produces and exports the largest amount of corn in the world (346 million metric tons), followed by China, Brazil and Argentina.
Corn has lots of Vitamin C. This helps protect your body’s cells from damage and also helps ward off diseases like cancer and heart disease. Yellow corn is a good source of the carotenoids lutein and zeaxanthin, which are good for eye health and help prevent the lens damage that leads to cataracts. It is relatively low in calories. Corn has been hailed as one of the best foods for losing weight.
With butter and perhaps a touch of salt, corn on the cob does it for me. Others like putting it in salads or as kernels as a side dish. Also, there are those corn salads sold at the many local farmstands. Some folks boil corn, others roast it; I must confess my wife Cindi prepares mine quickly in the microwave!
Edward Winslow, one of the founders of Plymouth Colony, Massachusetts, wrote that the spring before “the first” Thanksgiving, the settlers planted 20 acres of Indian corn (also known as flint corn). The abundant crop was served for the very first time that Fall, for Thanksgiving.
So, go to your favorite farmstand or local farmer’s market, or even farm and get some sweet Long Island Corn before it is gone until next year!