For me, one of the best things about summer in Ohio is corn! Considering my affinity toward Central America, I prefer the term “maize,” an Indian word meaning “sacred mother,” or “giver of life.” The ancient Maya creation story features the maize god—referred to as “First Father.” When the waters that covered the earth receded, the first mountain to appear contained enormous bounties within it. Having sacrificed himself to defeat certain flaws, the maize god descended into the Underworld. Chaak, a lightning and rain god, came along and with his mighty axe split open the earth, which was perceived as a great turtle or crocodile. The maize god ascended through the crack, thereby defeating death and distributing the bounty, maize in particular. First Mother ground the maize into a dough and that became flesh for the first human beings. The ancient Maya were known as the “People of Maize” because they literally believed they were constituted of it. And ever after, the maize plant has been a primary metaphor for the human lifecycle.
First cultivated in Mexico, maize was developed by natives living in Central America—Olmec and Maya—at least 7,000 years ago. It was heavily traded throughout North, Central, and South America. Native Americans used sweet corn leaves as chewing gum. Columbus brought it back to Europe. The early settlers in the New World learned from the natives how to make various dishes including corn bread, corn pudding, corn soup, and fried corn cakes.
Maize is a domesticated grass. It does not exist in the wild. The tassel at the top of the stalk is the male part and the silk of the ear is the female part. The tassel releases millions of grains of pollen, and some of them are caught by the silk. There’s one strand of silk for each kernel on a cob. Depending upon the cultivated type, the crop may be ready for harvesting in 65-90 days. On average an ear of maize has 800 kernels in 16 rows, and there is always an even number of rows on every cob. Amazing!
The U.S. corn crop acreage, put together, would cover all of Germany. In the U.S., it takes 91 gallons of water to produce one pound of corn (European word). Maize is cholesterol free and a good source of vitamin C and A, potassium, thiamine and fiber. It’s very high in antioxidants, is 100% whole grain, and high in natural sugars/starches.
If you wish to make an impact for one year, plant corn; if you wish to make an impact for a generation, plant a tree; if you wish to make an impact for an eternity, educate a child.