Field of Science

Lincolnland needs a state vegetable? Well, don't nominate a fruit!

When it comes to crops here in Lincolnland, there are two, maize and soybeans. In terms of value nothing else comes close. Some 4th graders decided that the state needed an official vegetable, and one of our legislators with nothing else to do decided to help, so they are nominating sweet corn as the state vegetable. Except of course, it's technically a fruit, an immature caryopsis with sugary endosperm, i.e., a cereal grain. It's hard to know if Lincolnland has any vegetables of note; maybe asparagus. Now of course this is a repeat of the all too annoying problem of usage versus botany. Tomatoes and cucumbers are fruits. And so are cereal grains. Now apparently our citizens each eat on average something like 50 lbs of sweet corn, but is that the weight at harvest?  As you know, you buy sweet corn by the ear (infructescence) and the husks and cob are not eaten and discarded, and you hardly know where to put a high carb "vegetable" like this in the food pyramid. And of course when you got 4th graders doing the voting it skews things a bit toward the tastes of a younger cohort. According to their criteria the state "vegetable" should probably be squash, marketed as canned "pumpkin", for which the state is actually famous (pumpkin capital of the USA) but does that bounce it back into the fruit category where it actually belongs?  Who knows. Go for it kids.

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