An Americas original, corn was first cultivated between 6,000 to 10,000 years ago in the southern Mexico region.
It is thought the indigenous people created corn by patiently hybridizing teosinte, a large grass native to Mexico’s Central Balsas River Valley.
Columbus first saw corn growing in Cuba and relayed stories of the food source upon his return. He was responsible for first introducing corn to Spain.
Early Peruvians carried corn seed to Central America and from there it made its way through indigenous hands to what is now the United States.
The success of ancient corn crops turned indigenous people from nomadic hunter gatherers to an agricultural based lifestyle which freed up time to pursue arts and culture.
Early corn was so revered, The Inca Palace Gardens were decorated with gold and silver carvings of maize.
Corn husks were used to make masks, dolls, sleeping mats, baskets and even shoes. Husks were sometimes woven together as a replacement for firewood.
The sweet corn we butter up to today is the result of recent hybridization and has only been around for the past century.
Only one percent of corn grown in the United States is sweet corn intended for fresh eating. The rest of the crops are field corn classified as a grain and primarily used for animal feed and biofuels. Field corn is also used to make cereal, corn starch, oil and syrup for human consumption, though there is much debate as to whether a healthy lifestyle should include any of these highly processed products.
Indigenous corn was served at the First Thanksgiving. Edward Winslow, one of the founders of the Plymouth Colony, wrote how the spring before, settlers had planted 20 acres of flint corn. Today indigenous corn is used primarily as table decorations at Thanksgiving as a tribute to the indigenous people who helped starving settlers survive in America by introducing them to corn.