COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) - Should the collard green be designated as the state vegetable? Some call the discussion a waste of time, others a wonderful idea. Either way, it's causing some hard feelings among lawmakers.
Nine-year-old Mary Grace Wingard isn't old enough to vote, but she knows all about politics. "The best thing she could do is not veto it," she said.
Knowing full well how a bill becomes a law, the Lexington One third-grader penned a letter to her state senator, Jake Knotts. "When I went to the honor roll skate party, I told him I'd write him a letter," said Wingard. "I listed the reasons why and then closed by asking him to make collards the state vegetable."
Mary Grace can list those reasons one by one. "I chose the collard because South Carolina is ranked second in the U.S. for collard production, highest for any vegetable in South Carolina," said Wingard. "Lexington County is ranked first for collard production in the state and collards are healthy and tasty."
That letter must have made an impression. From the schoolhouse to the State House, the proposal has passed the Senate, but has not taken root in the House.
House lawmakers want to consider other vegetables like the green bean, but Mary Grace has that argument wrapped up. "The green bean is grown in the summer. The collard is grown year round," she said.
Wingard vows to continue in the growing debate, but when it comes to a future in politics, Mary Grace is happy being a constituent. "I've tried to make a bill pass, but I don't have the stuff to do it," she said.
At last count, the 2,600 acres of collard crops in South Carolina were valued at $6.6 million dollars, according to Clemson University researchers.