August Vegetable of the Month: Sweet Corn

The August Vegetable of the Month is Sweet Corn!

If you live in South Dakota, you’re likely an old pro at that time-honored road trip conversation: how good (or not good) the cornfields look. Corn is South Dakota’s top-produced crop — and it’s not just food for cows or fuel for your car. It’s a healthy meal staple to bridge the culinary gap from summer to fall.

Corn is native to the Americas. The Native Americans passed it along to Christopher Columbus, who brought it back to Spain. Today, it’s still a great source of B vitamins for energy, fiber for better digestion, and antioxidants to reduce your risk of disease.

Sweet corn is harvested in August and September. Even though you can freeze it to enjoy all year long, it’s at its best when it’s fresh off the stalk!

Corn you believe it?

  • Ears of corn dating back 8,000 years have been discovered in Mexican caves.
  • Sweet corn wasn’t developed until the 1700s. Native Americans ate what we know now as field corn, or corn that wasn’t harvested until their kernels were dry. On the other hand, sweet corn is picked when the kernels are soft and the plant is still green.
  • People grow corn on every continent of the world except for Antarctica.
  • Most corn grown in the United States doesn’t feed people. It’s food for cattle, hogs, poultry, and sheep.
  • Each kernel of corn on a cob is actually a whole fruit! A kernel is a type of fruit called caryopsis — a fruit with one single seed.

Six ways to eat more corn

  1. Dice things up. Make your own salsa at home with whole corn kernels, diced onion and tomato, lime juice, cilantro, and jalapeños or chili powder if you’re feeling fiery.
  2. Tip-top toppings. Butter is a traditional corn on the cob topping, but you can make it even healthier by cutting the butter with roasted garlic, lemon zest, or spices like paprika or cumin.
  3. Fit in some fruit. Put together a surprisingly tasty salad with boiled corn, chopped apples, spinach, bell pepper. Mix in lime juice, olive oil, salt, and pepper.
  4. Chow down. As the days get shorter and the weather gets cooler, keep the warmth going with some corn chowder.
  5. Corn-sider yourself prepared. Keep a bag of corn (whole or shucked) in the freezer for quick additions to soups, salads, or hotdishes all the time.
  6. Let’s taco ’bout it. Make corn an add-on at taco nights. Season it with salt and lime ahead of time, and boom! You’re cooking with gas — ethanol, that is.

Fact check: Mayo Clinic Health System, Healthline, University of Maine Extension, University of Illinois Extension, North Dakota State University

Can’t get enough fruits and veggies? Be sure to check out Harvest of the Month, a downloadable educational program designed to make learning about fruits and veggies easy, tasty, and fun!

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