South Carolina's White Corn is Headed to the Nation's Grain Archives

This is a big deal.

South Carolina Corn Field
Photo: WIN-Initiative/Getty Images

The U.S. Department of Agriculture likes to keep up on all the latest trends in crops, and sometimes those trends go back hundreds of years. Such is the case with South Carolina's famed Sea Island White Flint corn, which has been a staple in households for decades, but only recently caught the attention of the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Agricultural Research Service. Last month, they requested a sample of the Sea Island White Flint Corn for a researcher who is trying to figure out how to improve white corn's flavor. As reported by the Post and Courier, he thinks the South Carolina strain just might be secret to tastier white corn.

The anonymous researcher heard about Sea Island White Flint thanks to a book on Southern provisions written by a University of South Carolina professor named David Shields who just so happens to work with Anson Mills, the company behind some of the South's best grits. The strain of corn was once common in the South, but fell out of use. The company has been working to bring the heritage grain back into rotation (crop rotation, that is) because it tastes so darn good.

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"To us hooch and grain nerds, this is a huge deal because Charleston has not submitted local, identity-preserved landrace maize in well over a half century," Anson Mills' Glenn Roberts told the Post and Courier. Before those self-professed South Carolina "grain nerds" can celebrate, the Department of Agriculture's lab has to grow the corn and evaluate it. Only then can it be granted official entry into the nation's grain collection, but thanks to the corn's unique heritage and appearance, it's more than likely that the South's corn will join the collection and help make tastier white corn for generations to come.

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