By Connie Vivrett
Corporate Marketing & Communications Team
Many years ago, my husband and I lived in Iowa. Each summer, we couldn’t wait to head to the Iowa State Fair and take in the sights. Having been raised in an urban area, the Iowa State Fair was like a living, contemporary museum of the best Iowa rural life had to offer. But for all the fancy tractors and insanely large vegetables, one of my favorite scenes, one that just really brought home for me all that was “Iowa,” was the free corn on the cob. When I saw those ladies doling out hot fresh corn straight from the pot, when I smelled that lovely sweet steam rising, I felt like I was home.
I love sweet corn. More than that, I am one of those people who really knows how to eat corn. I have a system that ensures that every single juicy kernel is plucked clean. I have passed on my method to my kids, who take pride in returning a clean, empty cob to their dinner plates.
So imagine my delight when I heard Monsanto was inviting employees to take a taste of our new biotech sweet corn, engineered to protect itself from insects. Free corn? Fresh from the farm? At work? The experience of eating corn with my colleagues in the Monsanto café may not have had the same appeal as the Iowa State Fair moment, but the corn was calling, so I went.
I could smell the corn before I entered the room. The corn had been plucked from the field just the day before, so it was fresh and juicy and sweet. The yellow and white kernels were small, telling me the corn was on the stalk just long enough to ripen so it would be sweet, not starchy. We had our choice of several kinds of butter as well as Mexican style with sour cream and grated cheese. I tried them all, of course. Actually, I found it was best plain, with just a little salt.
While tasting and talking to my colleagues, I learned that sweet corn growers spray pesticides something like 30 times or more on the average sweet corn crop. I learned that the Bt protein in biotech sweet corn will cut pesticide applications by as much as 85 percent.
As a mom who is concerned about the food I place on my family’s table each night, I like knowing this corn will soon be available. I like knowing our American farmers have the choice to grow this sweet corn for their own families and to sell. Most of all, I just liked the corn. It was delicious. The farmer should be proud.
Photograph: Monsanto employees Whitney Vredenburgh and Raegan Johnson at the biotech sweet corn tasting party in the company’s headquarters cafeteria last week.