Midwest Maize: How Corn Shaped the U.S. Heartland (Heartland Foodways)

Midwest Maize: How Corn Shaped the U.S. Heartland (Heartland Foodways)

Cynthia Clampitt

Language: English

Pages: 304

ISBN: 0252080572

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub

Food historian Cynthia Clampitt pens the epic story of what happened when Mesoamerican farmers bred a nondescript grass into a staff of life so prolific, so protean, that it represents nothing less than one of humankind's greatest achievements. Blending history with expert reportage, she traces the disparate threads that have woven corn into the fabric of our diet, politics, economy, science, and cuisine. At the same time she explores its future as a source of energy and the foundation of seemingly limitless green technologies. The result is a bourbon-to-biofuels portrait of the astonishing plant that sustains the world.

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contaminated.9 Of course, speaking of contamination, it’s hard not to think of the 2013 outbreak of hepatitis from the frozen organic berry mix that included fruit shipped from Turkey. The farther one gets from the original farmer, the harder it becomes to be certain about the food, even if it is organic.) “Contamination is definitely one of the issues one must take into consideration with organic food,” Fernholz remarks, noting that contamination can take many forms. “The government now

Guard One serious danger the country faces is the possibility of having too few farmers. The vast majority of the Midwest’s farms are family owned, and many are being farmed by the third, fourth, or fifth generation of the same family. However, not everyone stays on the family farm. Today, an aging farm population reaching retirement age often finds itself with no one to do the farming. Many rent their land, letting others farm it—but what if there is no one to inherit the land when they’re

Findings, New Questions,” Nutrition (November/December 2010). 39. Fiona Macrae and Pat Hagan, “Just One Glass of Orange Juice a Day Could Increase Risk of Diabetes,” The Daily Mail, August 14, 2008. 40. “A Brief History of the Corn Refining Industry,” Corn Refiners Association. 41. Aurand, “Food Constituents,” p. 168. 42. Hardeman, Shucks, Shocks, p. 178. 43. Mike McCormick, Terre Haute: Queen City of the Wabash (Chicago: Arcadia, 2005), p. 51. 44. Hardeman, Shucks, Shocks, p. 184. 45.

farmers could not use “broadcast planting”—walking through the field simply tossing handfuls of grain randomly across the plowed earth. That works well for the small grains, because there aren’t issues of crowding, sprawling roots, and a huge need for sunlight, as with corn. With corn, seeds are planted at specific distances from one another, so that plants aren’t competing. Long before Europeans arrived on the continent, Native Americans had figured this out, and most Europeans imitated their

strength. Every available hand was needed, and a woman was often half of the available labor force—and this, too, contributed to making corn dominant on farms.11 The next group that came, starting in the 1820s, was from the mid-Atlantic region. These settlers used southern agricultural practices in conjunction with German feeding systems. Their contribution was the organization of hog and cattle markets. This generated another boost to interest in migrating west.12 As cities swelled along the

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