There are numerous ways to gauge what truly ushers in summer. Whether it is pools opening, strawberries ripening, fireworks and the 4th of July, baseball, or the first blackberry cobbler, there are really no wrong answers. For me, though I love them all and a good tomato, it really isn’t summer until the first ear of sweet corn is bathed in butter.
Starting last weekend, sweet corn returned to Meade County. I had been scouring social media for the first sign of the golden cobs of summer reemerging. After learning that Piddlin’ Produce was on the Meade County Farmers Market’s Saturday morning lineup with sweet corn last weekend, I was Brandenburg bound—even if it was my off day. Cecilia Banks and her friend, Jasey Allen, sent me back home with 12 ears of bi-colored manna.
I love a good steak or chop, but enjoying a good ol’ roasting ear is summertime bliss. After enjoying the fruits of Piddlin’ Produce’s bounty for the last several days, I have decided to kick off the first annual Meade County Sweet Corn Showdown.
I’m making this up as we go, but I think the people of this county need a go to, standardized system to find, acquire and enjoy the best sweet corn our fine farmers have to offer. If I’m being honest, those big box stores may offer corn on the cob, but it’s an overripened sweet corn substitute at best.
So, here are the rules. The first farm to produce an ear for sale gets three points. Next, to offset the early bird getting the worm, the farm that produces a judge-able ear for the most consecutive weeks will get three points. Another way to get points is by diversity. Any farmer that can produce more than one variety for retail sale will get two points. And lastly but most importantly, every week I will roast ears from all available farms. The winner for the week will get as many points as are equal to competitors for the week (5 competitors = 1st - 5 pts, 2nd - 4 pts, 3rd - 3 pts, etc.).
Weather played a crucial role this year. With a late snow and cold, wet spring to deal with, this year’s crop faced some setbacks that made sweet corn by the 4th of July unattainable. Though Piddlin’ Produce jumped out to an early start, Luke Millay/Braden Compton started selling their crop this week. Kenzey Compton with Farmer’s Daughter Produce and Nicholas/Bethany Hardesty with Hardesty Farms & Greenhouses also plan to begin picking corn this week as well. I also expect Chris Chapman with Chapman Farms to begin selling any time, too.
Those five make out my Meade County version of Michigan’s blue and maize Fab Five in the local sweet corn game, but who knows, a dark horse may yet enter the race. Piddlin’ Produce got the three point early bird bonus and one point for best sweet corn last week in a one horse race, but there is still plenty of time for other contenders to make up the early 4-0 deficit.
Let the Meade County Sweet Corn Showdown begin. May the butter flow and the sweet aroma of roasting ears fill the air.