Did You Know That Yellow Corn Is The Result Of A Native American Genocide?

Fun fact: most, if not all, of the domesticated produce we eat is bred mostly for flavor and not so much for nutritional value. A New York Times article delving into this topic reveals that, dangerously, this kind of breeding has stripped key phytonutrients — crucial for preventing modern illnesses like cancer, cardiovascular disease, diabetes and dementia — from our food. For instance, corn used to come in many different colors, such as blue, red, black, and a more starchy variety of yellow — and of course, this corn was packed with phytonutrients until Americans decided that they really, really liked sweet yellow corn.

An even more excitingly fun fact: this preference came from a genocide of the Iroquois tribe!

EUROPEAN settlers were content with this colorful corn until the summer of 1779 when they found something more delectable — a yellow variety with sweeter and more tender kernels. This unusual variety came to light that year after George Washington ordered a scorched-earth campaign against Iroquois tribes. While the militia was destroying the food caches of the Iroquois and burning their crops, soldiers came across a field of extra-sweet yellow corn. According to one account, a lieutenant named Richard Bagnal took home some seeds to share with others. Our old-fashioned sweet corn is a direct descendant of these spoils of war.

So basically, corn on the cob is the culinary version of Hugo Boss: they both directly profited from horrible war crimes…but they’re also so tasteful.


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