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IPFS News Link • Food

5 heirloom foods that farmers want to bring back from obscurity


Bored by the uniform tastes born of modern industrialized farming, food historians, small-farm growers, and curious gourmands are resurrecting forgotten eats—once-famous crops ready for a second act. Their efforts represent a clarion call to embrace bites with flavors as rich as their backstories. Here are a few long-gone bites making delicious comebacks.

Cocke's Prolific white dent corn

Cocke's Prolific white dent corn scarcely resembles the sweet yellow cobs that line produce aisles and markets. The grain gets its name from the shape of its kernels: shrunken, with a dimple at the top. The taste, according to culinary historian David S. Shields, is singular. "Very good," he says, with a "flinty wholesomeness"—especially when used to whip up grits or spoonbread. "So light, so buttery, so quick to disappear."

Its story begins in the 1820s when John Hartwell Cocke—a brigadier general of the Virginia militia during the War of 1812—crossed a round-kerneled white flint corn with Virginia white gourdseed corn. Flint matured in less than three months, but was too starchy for easy milling; gourdseed ground up better, but took a long time to ripen and bore just one ear per stalk. A single shoot of the general's Frankenstein could produce as many as five ears—a whole lot in those times. The horse-racing set also loved it, since its high sugar content gave animals a kick.