Death on a Cob: How US Corn is Destroying Mexican Heritage

Like many other Latin American countries, Mexico has a very rich history and heritage, a good majority of which is in the form of any unlikely food stuff; maize. It is as much as apart of Mexico’s history as the invasion of the Conquistadors and the Aztecs. Small scale farmers, such as Arnulfo Melo, grow a variety of maize. They see it as a connection to the past and their heritage, with each type of maize plant having its own distinct color, flavor, and smell.


However, these small scale farmers are worried that the market for these specialized corn are declining. New generation farmers are not interested in planting the traditional variety of maize but rather the cheaper, more profitable yellow corn we find so commonly in the United States. The younger generations also have little interest in consuming traditional Mexican food, of which relies on the specialty maize.

Activists such as Rafael Mier are pushing for efforts to save the disappearing crops. Once they are lost, they are never coming back. Some of the species shown above have been bred and grown specifically for hundreds of years. Consequently, the break up of NAFTA might be the only hope for Mexico’s specialty maize to survive. It is not only the more profitable, cheaper, simpler corn being grown that is the problem; it is also the importation of cheap US corn that flood the market and replace the traditional maize. If NAFTA were to disintegrate, this would leave a demand in the market for corn. A demand that can be supplied by the traditional, heritage rich maize.

NAFTA: US-grown corn threatens Mexican crop heritage


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