Did you know…?
Most historians believe corn was domesticated in the Tehuacan Valley of Mexico. The Olmec and Mayans cultivated it in numerous varieties throughout Mesoamerica, cooked, ground or processed through nixtamalization. Beginning about 2500 BC, the crop spread through much of theAmericas. The region developed a trade network based on surplus and varieties of maize crops. After European contact with the Americas in the late 15th and early 16th centuries, explorers and traders carried maize back to Europe and introduced it to other countries. Maize spread to the rest of the world because of its ability to grow in diverse climates. Sugar-rich varieties called sweet corn are usually grown for human consumption, while field cornvarieties are used for animal feed and as chemical feedstocks.
Maize is the most widely grown grain crop throughout the Americas, with 332 million metric tons grown annually in the United States alone. Approximately 40% of the crop — 130 million tons — is used for corn ethanol. Genetically modified maize made up 85% of the maize planted in the United States in 2009.