Two types of Mirai corn are being sold at the stands, said geneticist Dave Mackenzie, whose seed company, Centest, sells seeds for the corn and planted acreage to sell it directly to the public. Mirai corn has a higher sugar content than any other corn, he said, and is a hybrid developed by natural selection, not by genetic alteration.
The two types are the standard variety, with white and yellow kernels, and the small, sweeter “dessert” corn that rivals the taste of sweet fruit.
“There’s nothing like it in the industry,” Mackenzie said. “Regular sweet corn is 14 percent sugar, regular Mirai is 16 to 17 percent sugar, and the dessert corn is 18 to 19 percent sugar.”
Mackenzie has been selling seeds for Mirai corn for years, and the hybrid has received national acclaim since it was introduced in Japan in 1995, and has been featured locally on the menus of Montrose restaurants, Mackenzie said, including the Red Barn, Café 110, Belly, Smugglers and the dining room at Montrose Memorial Hospital.
Since his main business was seeds, Mackenzie just began direct distribution of Mirai corn this year after planting a sample crop, with the help of sweet corn farmer Keith Catlin, on Catlin’s land on Spring Creek Mesa.
To market the corn, Mackenzie hired husband and wife Charlotte and Dan Blowers to run the stands. Charlotte Blowers said public reaction has been “phenomenal” since the stands opened in mid-August, and she expects even more before they close early next month.
“Our object was to get people to try the corn — we want them to taste it,” she said. “So many think it can’t be better than Olathe.”
Stands are set up in the Q&T parking lot at Niagara and South Townsend avenues, open everyday but Monday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., at North Townsend and Ninth Street open Wednesday through Saturday from 1 pm. to 6 p.m., and at the Red Barn Restaurant on East Main Street on weekends.
People are talking about Mirai corn, Mackenzie said, and those who have tried it swear by its superior taste. Phuong Nguyen, co-owner of Coffee Trader coffee shop, is one of its devotees.
“It’s wonderful and completely different,” Nguyen said. “Even the texture is different.”