Where Did Corn Originate From?

The exact birthplace of corn, or maize, is unknown, but most historians believe it was first grown in Mexico's Tehuacan Valley. The grain first came to Europe after Christopher Columbus's journey in 1492.

Corn was not a wild crop that the Amerindians in Mexico domesticated. Rather, they took a wild grain, teosinte, and genetically manipulated it over generations through selective breeding. Eventually, around 7,000 years ago, they developed the corn common throughout the world today. In England and other parts of the world, "corn" refers to any cereal, like wheat or oats; in such countries, the corn that originated in the Tehuacan Valley is called "maize" or "Indian corn."

Corn became popular throughout South and Central America. By the time settlers came from Spain and England to North America, corn was being cultivated, grown and eaten by Native Americans all across North America: it was a staple of their diet. The corn in that time period more closely resembled what is now used mainly for livestock; sweet corn, like what is commonly eaten today, was not developed until the 18th century. Europeans of the time quickly adapted to the vegetable and even took part in fights over corn fields planted by Native Americans.