‘Oh this corn is so sweet!”

“Almost as sweet as the corn we had last week.”

“Mmhmm”

“Where is this corn from?”

“Mmph? — still chewing”

(Most likely a local fruit stand, but it’s a loosely held secret. Not kept like a favorite mushroom picking spot, but not necessarily region-wide newspaper fodder either.)

“We’ll never have corn as sweet as the corn that Lyle Schmidt grew”.

(Every corn tasting event at our house ends with a tip of the cob to a farmer/sweet corn whisperer from my childhood. He’s long since passed, but if you ever tasted his corn, you know what I’m talking about.)

It could be a longer conversation, but passing judgement on the quality of every ear of corn consumed in our house is how it’s always gone. It must be done and it must be done prior to swallowing the first bite, or so it seems. Once shucked, cooked, buttered, salted, served — and then judged, the meal is allowed to continue.

It’s corn and it’s corny, but it’s always the case.

In a world that insists on being sliced and diced, debated and discussed, with everybody wanting to get their say or exert their influence, I’d like to shove an ear of buttered sweet corn into its collective mouth.

If you’re local to the area, you probably watched the corn get planted, you watched it grow, you watched it get harvested, you got to handle it when you bought it, and you watched it get cooked. Now, just make a quick comment about it and then just shut up and eat.

At my dining room table you get no looking back, no “what if’s,” no presenting your own version of corn, no talking about other foods we should be eating, and no wild internet based suggestions regarding anything about corn.

None of that.

That all may sound harsh but here is the kernel of truth. So many issues come along rooted in the same soil. We watched them germinate, we watched them grow, and we watched them evolve from small issues to large problems, and said or did nothing. But when they fall onto some of our own plates, people suddenly find the appetite to say something critical or offer a few suggestions.

Sound familiar?

There’s a relatively new word in the modern world called “Agritainment”. The idea of heading out to a local farming establishment for fun and not just a baker’s dozen ears of corn.

These farms often feature a “corn maze.”

In the part of northern Michigan that I travel to, there are at least half a dozen corn mazes that I highly recommend for an afternoon or evening of family fun.

In a world that can’t get out of its own way, try a walk in the corn for a moment’s respite. Our resources are plentiful and flexible enough that we now use tracts of fertile crop land both for consumption and relaxation. If you enjoy getting lost in the great taste of summer sweet corn, imagine the fun you’ll have getting lost in a giant maze of corn.

If I were in charge and could change things, making the local sweet corn season a bit longer might be on the list. And if that was the case, I’d also insist that those wishing to pass judgment upon my reign take a big bite of locally grown corn first … take a really long walk through a corn maze.

That would be really sweet.

Contact Rob Ford at robfordwrites@gmail.com.

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