August 9, 2018
You don’t expect vegetables to be a commodity found on the black market, but corn sometimes shows up at roadside stands labelled as Taber Corn, when it’s not.
Only Taber Corn is Taber Corn
Taber Corn is grown in a very specific geographic location near Taber, in southeast Alberta, and the farmers that grow it have banded together to market their uniquely tender and delicious corn to western Canadians.
With a product that many Albertans wait all year for, it’s likely no surprise that some unscrupulous sellers may try to capitalize on the name. So how can you be sure the corn you’re getting is genuine Taber Corn?
“I’d say that there’s more trust when you buy Taber Corn from a grocery store like Co-op. Everything has to be labelled properly, and all Co-op stores will have their Certificates of Authenticity on display,” explains James Johnson, of Johnson Fresh Farms, a well-known Taber Corn supplier.
Johnson Fresh Farms has been bringing their tender corn to Co-op in Calgary for more than four years. Customers have been snapping it up.
“Taber growers have done a good job at cracking down on counterfeit corn, and I don’t think there’s as much of that as there once was,” says Johnson.
Taber Corn is Uniquely Sweet
What is it about Taber Corn that makes it worthy of counterfeiting? Some of it has to do with the weather, naturally. Hot days give way to substantially cooler nights in this area, and that fluctuation helps bring out the sugars in the corn.
“We’ve had really good quality corn over the years,” says Johnson. “Some of it has to do with the soil, and our irrigation systems. We have great fertile soil and great irrigation where we can control the water and make sure the crops are getting the proper water they need at critical stages of the growing season.”
Corn So Sweet You Can Eat It Raw
That unparalleled sweetness comes along with a delicate texture. So sweet and juicy is Taber Corn, you can actually eat it raw. It’s completely devoid of any of that starchiness or chalkiness typically associated with raw corn from other regions. Taber Corn can be shaved right from the cob, uncooked, and put in salsas, on salads or as a crunchy garnish on gazpacho or appetizers.
How to Store Fresh Taber Corn
Keeping Taber Corn at the peak of freshness goes a long way to making sure you’ll taste it just as the farmers in Taber intend you to.
“Don’t keep it in your car, don’t let it get hot,” warns Johnson. “Make sure you eat it within two or three days. If you do need to store it, husk the outside leaves and keep just a thin layer of the husk on it, then keep it cool in your fridge’s crisper.”
A Western Canadian Favourite
Because of its popularity here at home, Taber Corn is rarely spotted outside Alberta, B.C., and Saskatchewan. It’s picked when it’s perfectly ripe, and moved in cooled trucks to Co-op stores and other authorized sellers. Only as much corn as can be sold fresh is shipped to Co-op stores, so you’re always getting the freshest corn available.
How to Ensure Your Corn is Genuine Taber Corn
Taber Corn season runs from about early August until near the end of September, and depends on the overall growing season. Johnson says it’s not unusual for customers to start calling him near the end of July, asking how this year’s crop is looking.
Taber Corn must be grown in the MD of Taber in order to be sold as ‘Taber Corn’. All the farms in the Municipal District issue certificates vendors can display, with a phone number customers can call to verify the authenticity.
Johnson Fresh Farms says all Calgary Co-op stores have their certificates on display in the store.
A third generation farmer, Johnson says he loves a lot of things about working with his crop of not only Taber Corn, but potatoes, peas and sugar beets.
“I like the challenges; every day is different, every year is different. There can be a lot of uncertainty working with the land, and there’s a lot of hard work involved, but it’s very rewarding.
Next time you select some fresh ears of delectable Taber Corn at your neighbourhood Co-op store, take a glance at the certificate alongside it, and tip your hat to the folks at Johnson Fresh Farms and their neighbours in Taber, Alberta, where the corn is the envy of the rest of Canada.
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