Last week, I wrote about turkeys in a Thanksgiving themed column. This week, I will focus on another Thanksgiving icon: corn.

Maize, or corn as most North Americans know it, was first cultivated 10,000 years ago in southern Mexico. It is thought that all modern types of corn arose from the same plant, named teosinte, a wild grass that has large seeds, which would be almost indistinguishable as the parent of modern corn. It must have been amazing to observe these plant breeders! Imagine doing all this work with little in the way of equipment and written language, passing all the techniques from generation to generation by spoken word. As they continued to improve the quality of the corn crop, the popularity grew, and through the extensive trade routes that existed even then, within a few thousand years, people were growing corn as a staple from Canada to Argentina.

Jeff Burbrink is an educator with Purdue Extension Elkhart County. He can be reached at 574-533-0554 or

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