It pays to scour the news for tidbits like this. While some of you skeptics may think that our Brooklyn Heights elected officials are out of touch, long time State Senator Martin Connor fought a valiant and semantic battle in Albany last week:
New York Times: As Legislative Session Wanes, So Does Leaders’ Momentum: Lawmakers waded into the treacherous terrain of botany last week.
Earlier this year, Senator Michael F. Nozzolio, an upstate Republican, introduced legislation that would make sweet corn the state vegetable. (The bill originated as a class project by students at the Dana L. West High School in Port Byron, N.Y.)
But when the bill came up for debate in the Senate on Tuesday, it quickly earned the disapproval of Senator Martin Connor, a Brooklyn Democrat.
“As everyone knows, corn is a grain,” he said. “And I would propose that we make sweet corn the New York State official grain.”
Mr. Connor added that, having once been to the Sauerkraut Festival in Phelps, N.Y. — “the sauerkraut capital of the United States,” by his reckoning — “I would propose we make the cabbage the state vegetable.”
Technically, Mr. Connor is correct, said Marvin P. Pritts, chairman of the department of horticulture at Cornell University.
“The criteria is whether it comes from the reproductive part of a plant or the vegetative part of the plant,” Dr. Pritts said. “If it comes from the reproductive part of the plant, it’s a fruit. If it comes from the vegetative part of the plant, it’s a vegetable.”
Botanically speaking, corn is a caryopsis, or dry fruit — popularly known as a grain.
Dr. Pritts allowed that corn, like a tomato, is eaten like a vegetable, “so to a normal, everyday person, it’s a vegetable.”