In the Beginning
Corn as we know it today would not exist if it weren't for the humans
that cultivated and developed it. It is a human invention, a plant that
does not exist naturally in the wild. It can only survive if planted and
protected by humans.
Scientists believe people living in central Mexico developed corn at
least 7000 years ago. It was started from a wild grass called teosinte.
Teosinte looked very different from our corn today. The kernels were small
and were not placed close together like kernels on the husked ear of modern
corn. Also known as maize
Indians throughout North and South America, eventually depended upon this
crop for much of their food.
From Mexico maize spread north into the Southwestern United States and
south down the coast to Peru. About 1000 years ago, as Indian people migrated
north to the eastern woodlands of present day North America, they brought
corn with them.
When Europeans like Columbus made contact with people living in North
and South America, corn was a major part of the diet of most native people.
When Columbus "discovered" America, he also discovered corn. But up to
this time, people living in Europe did not know about corn.
The first Thanksgiving
was held in 1621. While sweet potatoes, cranberry sauce and pumpkin pie
were not on the menu, Indian corn certainly would have been.
The History of Corn Continued...
Photo used by permission, State Historical Society of
Iowa, Iowa City.