Editorial: When it comes to corn, Illinois goes against the grain

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The good news is Illinois finally has a state vegetable.

The bad news is that it might not be a vegetable at all.

On Thursday, Gov. Bruce Rauner signed legislation making corn the state vegetable. Popcorn already is the state snack. All that corn among Illinois’ official favorites feels just right for a state smack in the middle of the Corn Belt.

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The bill’s chief legislative sponsor, state Sen. Sam McCann, R-Carlinville, said he consulted the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to determine that corn is, indeed, a vegetable.

But not everyone finds that easy to swallow.

The Encyclopedia Britannica says corn is a grain. And when corn was proposed as the state vegetable in New York in 2007, Marvin P. Pritts, chairman of the department of horticulture at Cornell University, told the New York Times that lawmakers had their science wrong. In fact, lawmakers learned, corn is a caryopsis, or grain. They abandoned the proposal.

In 1989, Wisconsin lawmakers also decided corn isn’t a vegetable and made it their state grain. So add one more thing — like Bears vs. Packers — on which Illinois and Wisconsin choose to disagree.

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