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SPRINGFIELD — The Illinois Senate unanimously endorsed sweet corn as the official state vegetable Thursday.

State Sen. Sam McCann, R-Plainview, said the idea came from the fourth-grade classes at Chatham Elementary School as a way for them to learn about state government.

McCann said he has heard complaints that there are more important things to take care of in state government, such as the budget. But he insisted sweet corn is important, as the fourth-graders watched from the Senate gallery.

"We have to invest in the future leaders of our state and nation," McCann said. "And these young people took an extraordinary interest in the process."

But state Sen. Andy Manar, D-Bunker Hill, had questions.

"Can you explain the difference to the body between a grain and a vegetable? And is sweet corn a vegetable?"

McCann came prepared.

"The U.S. Department of Agriculture has five food groups. The second food group identified after fruit is vegetable, and they actual classify corn as a vegetable," McCann said.

The Chatham classes cheered after the approval of the legislation.

Senate Bill 800 now goes to the House.


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