Corn controversy pops on social media

A Chilliwack corn producer is taken to task on Vernon social media.

This Thursday a corn controversy took hold of Vernon on social media.

In a members only group, a local resident posted their displeasure with what appeared to be ‘edible corn’ dumped in the landfill on a regular occurrence — instead of being donated to charities or farmers.

However, over the day much came to light.

The owner of Sparkes Corn Barn, the alleged corn dumper, spoke out on social media to clear up any misunderstanding.

“In order to try and maintain the high quality of corn our customers have become accustomed to, we have waste. From picking the corn in the field to packing it in containers and shipping it to the final location and then re-grading it in the corn barn to try and avoid any substandard product being sold , we end up with a certain amount of unsaleable corn,” read a post on Facebook by owner Ian Sparkes, of Chilliwack.

Apparently the unmarketable corn goes to a charity and the inedible corn goes to a farm to feed the cattle, in Kelowna. While in Vernon, the unsold corn is sometimes donated to charities and the unmarketable corn goes to a local pig farm.

Regional District of North Okanagan’s recycling and disposal facilities operations manager Dale Danallanko weighed in on the matter after he discovered the un-shucked tossed corn did not go to the landfill but instead into the yard and garden waste pile.

“It did not get consumed as food, but it did not go to the landfill,” he explained. “What will happen to that corn is we will grind it with our organic yard waste and we will compost that material on our compost pad.”

Sparkes claimed the reason, for what appeared to be a large pile of corn dumped, is that the farmer the corn was suppose to be donated to had a wedding and the corn obviously had to go somewhere.

“Because of this, three different times, we had to dump the corn and it went to the local dump. These are the only three times our corn has been wasted, contrary to the statement that this is a daily occurrence.”

Although some argued that the corn should have been donated, Sparkes explained his employees try to reuse and recycle but the logistics don’t always work out.

“Sometimes some corn goes to the farm for animals rather than human consumption and this will be due to work load and the time it takes to get it to these locations,” he wrote on social media. “Our days start as early as 2 a.m. and usually aren’t done before 7:30 p.m. so any extra work is a problem.”

Although Lisa Anderson, Co-Executive Director of the Vernon Upper Room Mission Society, may argue they could help Sparkes Corn out.

She said farmers often donate their unused product and would gladly figure out a way to take any edible unused corn.

“Donated items are either used in our kitchen, or we put it out on our giveaway table for people to access and take home with them,” Anderson explained.

Sparkes concluded his social media post with an apology, to the public and his customers, that if it looked like a waste of corn he was sorry but hopefully he was able to shed some light on the matter.

He also added a very valid and important viewpoint, that it is ‘easy to get all pumped up and opinionated behind a keyboard’, which is why he felt he should respond with a detailed post about how his business operates.


 

@Jen_zee
jen.zielinski@bpdigital.ca

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