Richard Oliff: Farmers really do earn their corn

Farmers really do earn their corn, says Richard
Farmers really do earn their corn, says Richard

Last weekend we visited two supermarkets in as many days.

I’m sure we’d walked miles up and down the aisles, passing thousands of products that had so carefully been placed in order to attract our attention.

Among them all was a tray of an old favourite of mine: a member of the maize family: sweetcorn – corn on-the cob.

As a boy I would ride my bike along all of the country lanes, never on footpaths, that surrounded my home town of Corby.

I’d see fields full of yellow or green food without giving it barely a thought.

Indeed, I think I’d still struggle to tell the difference between wheat, barley or corn, except that it’s mostly golden and can be turned into bread or flour.

I don’t think it’s so much a testament to my ignorance or even naivety, more probably my lack of interest.

Recently the field behind our home began to sprout its carpet of green shoots. Cabbages, broccoli or sprouts perhaps.

Each day we’d watch the green leaved plants getting taller and taller – one foot, two feet, five feet – and still very very green.

This is corn on-the cob that has already reached the height of the average person, not something I was familiar with as a child.

Now, here’s a thought: how much would a farmer in England make from just one field of cob-maize, given that it has to be harvested and then distributed to any and every supermarket that would have it anywhere in the world?

Here’s another question: do we care? Might I dare to suggest that the answer to both questions may possibly be “don’t care” followed closely by “no’.

I wonder if there will ever be a time when we truly acknowledge the priceless work of our farmers and lobby the supermarkets to give them more of the supply chain profits, even if it means a few more pence on the price of a pint of milk or sweetcorn?