Kernels on a cob of corn, showing an interesting phyllotactic defect where regular columns of kernels suddenly make a checkerboard pattern and then revert to columns again.Yesterday we got our first fresh sweet corn from the local farmers' market, and like the one illustrated above, it was the bicolor variety, which we favor.
As soon as corn is picked from the stalk, the natural sugars begin to convert to starch, so people who buy days-old corn from grocery store bins never learn how great it can taste. You should buy it from a farmer who has picked it that morning; even better is to pick it yourself in the field and run (don't walk) with it to the kitchen where you have the water already boiling or the microwave already preset.
When I was in high school my second paid summer job (after a diastrous effort to sell woolen clothes door-to-door in July) was at the Green Giant packing plant in Le Sueur, Minnesota, where I lubricated the cookers and watched the line for dented cans coming out of the canning machine. We worked 12-hour shifts at minimum wage (and no work/no pay on rainy days if the trucks couldn't get into the field), but once a week they would bring a truckload of corn, dump it into garbage cans into which steam was fed, and provided tubs of butter...
Photo credit: Stephen W. Morris' Flickr photostream, via Suddenly.