Dear reader. On September 29,an extremely important date is celebrated in Mexico, Corn Day, but why is this date so important?
Corn is not just a crop, but a deep cultural symbol intrinsic to daily life in Mexico. It is the main ingredient of many traditional dishes, such as tortillas, tamales, pozole and atole. It is also used to make syrup, oil, flour and starch for various products. Corn is grown across a third of Mexico’s land area and yields 27,000 tons annually.
But corn is more than just food. It is also a sacred element that connects the people of Mexico with their ancestors and their gods. Accord- ing to some historians, corn was domesticated from a grass called Teocintle by the peoples of Meso-America approximately 10,000 years ago. Corn was considered sacred because it was the first plant to be domesticated in Mexico and it symbolized the creation of humanity.
Corn also has a spiritual significance for many indigenous groups in Mexico. For example, the Tzotzil Maya believe that corn is alive and has a soul. They call it “the people of the corn” because they treat it with respect and humbleness. The Nahuatl speaking peoples refer to corn as “Tlaolli”, which means “our sustenance”. Corn is seen as a source of life and energy that sustains the people and their communities.
Corn also has an economic importance for Mexico. It is the basis of its food security and its export sector. Before NAFTA, more than a third of the corn produced by rural farmers was retained for consumption at home or sold on local markets. This allowed them to protect themselves from natural disasters and price fluctuations. However, NAFTA (USMCA as it known now), has allowed the Mexican market to be flooded with imported corn from the United States, most of which is genetically modified. This has threatened the livelihoods of local farmers and their food sovereignty.
Therefore, The Yucatan Times Editorial Team decided to dedicate a whole edition to Corn, and its tremendous importance in the Mexican culture. We believe that it is not only interesting but also relevant for understanding its history, identity and challenges.
Corn is more than just a plant; it is a living being that shapes and reflects the lives of millions of people in Mexico.