A-Maize-ing Maize


photo ©Boxcar Farm, Llano, NM

❝ Corn is one of America’s favorite vegetables in the garden and on the plate. From the rainbow-colored ‘Glass Gem’ flint corn to the classic ‘Golden Bantam’ sweet corn, corn is grown in many backyards. Buttery corn on the cob is part of almost every child’s summer memories. Popcorn and movies are inseparable. Corn chowder with oyster crackers warms us in winter. Cornbread, succotash, and taco shells are a few other common ways we heartily consume corn.

❝ Corn (Zea mays subsp. mays) is known as “maize” in Mesoamerica and many places outside the U.S. and has its origins in a wild grass from Mexico called “teosinte.” Only five genes keep teosinte and corn from being genetically identical, and teosinte is the closest relative of today’s corn. All research and hypotheses point to the domestication of one of the four species of teosinte, Zea mays spp. parviglumis, about 9,000 years ago in Oaxaca by the Mayan people…

❝ No matter how domestication began, over thousands of years, the indigenous people of Mesoamerica bred a vast genetic diversity into maize that most crops never undergo. Maize was invented. Without human intervention, it would not be what it is today, and it would not continue to survive. Those ancient farmers were brilliant geneticists!

RTFA. Fascinating stuff. Reflect on your diet and nutrition; but, also other directions possible with this complex vegetable.

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