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Corn-husk masks covered their faces while they danced. Waving green stalks over their heads, they sang the praises of corn, this miracle that was brought to them. These were Native American people who thought of corn as a gift of the gods and included it in their religious ceremonies. They called corn, squash, and beans the three sisters as they planted them together to form the nucleus of their diet.
Scientists believe that corn was first grown on the Mexican plateau or the highlands of Guatemala. Kernels dating back to 6600 BCE have been found in caves in Mexico. Fossil grains were discovered in lake sediment in Mexico City. These sediments could be 80, 000 years old.

Early corn was believed to be similar to oats and barley with each individual kernel covered in a husk. Many scientists believe that the ancestor of corn is a Mexican grass called teosinte. The husks and cobs we know today were developed over the century by early peoples of the Americas. By the time Columbus reached the new world corn fields were evident in both North and South America.



When corn was brought to Europe explorers of the Americas, many Europeans looked down on it as "a more convenient food for swine than for men." Today corn is still fed to animals, but much of the crop finds its way into the human food chain as breakfast cereals, flour, corn meal, starches, sweeteners, and cooking and salad oils. Non-cooking uses have proliferated in recent years with dyes, paints, chemicals, and automobile fuel as just a few.

The sweet corn we know today was discovered in 1779 in an Iroquois village along the Susquehanna River in central New York, but corn did not catch on as a food until the 1840's. After 1870 horticulturists developed sweeter varieties.

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Additional Photos by ishai gonda (ishai) Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 643 W: 100 N: 308] (4097)
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