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"The invention of corn by Mexicans is only comparable to the invention of fire by man"

Octavio Paz

Maize is the most important species in Mexico. Its domestication, thousands of years ago, made it a plant capable of feeding the peoples, as well as participating in the economic, social and religious characteristics of the Mesoamerican peoples. The place it occupied in these cities was not only in the area of subsistence food, but was also a central element in the worldview of these peoples, the performance of rituals and life revolved around their cultivation and harvest. The word MAIZ is of Caribbean origin and was introduced to Mexico by the Spanish. It is known in different ways in the Nahuatl language: tlaolli, which also refers to grains; xîlotlWhen the ear of corn was very tender; elotlWhen the grains in the ear were already formed and the ear was dry, it was called centliMaize is a species native to Mexico and belongs to the family of PoaceaeThis includes other foods such as oats, wheat, barley, rye and rice. Maize belongs to the genus ZeaThis includes five other species from Mexico and other Central American countries.


This cereal grows every year and in Mexico it is cultivated on almost 7 million hectares, where practically all of its cultivation is dedicated to domestic consumption. Recent studies on the genetic composition of maize have shown that the maize grown in Mexico and other countries comes from a wild species called teocintle.


During various excavations, the region of Tehuacán, in the state of Puebla, was found in a cave in San Marcos, the remains of ancient corn cobs from around 3000 BC. JC.


Although the primary use of maize is as food, there are other important by-products: such as glucose, antibiotics, fodder, ethanol, and biodegradable plastics, among others.
Currently, its uses are in environmentally friendly products that seek to counteract environmental contamination: corn husks, which are commonly used in the manufacture of tamalThe aim is to use them more widely to replace disposable dishes, for example.


Another example is Belu, the natural mineral water, which has launched the first all-plastic, biodegradable water bottle in Britain, made at 100% from a maize resource. So we also find another example of using maize for the production of biodegradable plastics.


The relationship between maize, both among pre-Hispanic peoples and among contemporary indigenous peoples, has been very close and, beyond the aspect of satisfying a biological need, has played an important role in their daily lives. Since maize in order to develop and grow fruitfully, it must receive a lot of care at different stages of its reproductive cycle, which if not fulfilled, the spirit of the maize can leave and then the people will starve and become impoverished. This is one of the reasons why the life of this food is considered in the daily life of people.


Maize is usually sown in April, and six months later, in October, its harvest is received, and if it was good, it means that the spirit of the maize is satisfied with the care received.


Finally, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture's National Nutrient Database, corn not only provides the calories needed for a healthy, daily metabolism, but is also a rich source of vitamins A, B, E and many minerals. In fact, its nutritional values per 100 grams of edible portion are 50 kilocalories, 1.1 grams of protein, 10.7 grams of carbohydrates and 1 gram of fibre. It is precisely its high fibre content that is the reason why it plays an important role in the prevention of digestive diseases such as constipation. In addition, the antioxidants present also act as anti-cancer agents and prevent Alzheimer's disease.

Source: Cultivos mesoamericanos, Arqueologia Mexicana, Febrero 2019, num 84

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