Our first week of summer library programs are over, but there is still time to sign your kids ages 5 through completing 5th grade up for our July sessions. Also, on June 11th at 1:15 pm Smoky Hills PBS will be at the library to do a program for the younger kids. Call the library if you’d like to come.
The opening song in the musical Oklahoma may sing about corn being as high as an elephant’s eye in that state, but the crop is grown all over the Midwest. Midwest Maize: How Corn Shaped the U.S. Heartland by Cynthia Clampitt takes a historical look at how the cultivation of the crop has shaped the center of the United States. The history of corn starts probably near 8000 BC in Mexico or possibly Central America where a while a local wild grass was domesticated. It is estimated that by 500 AD corn had become so widespread in the Americas that it was being grown as far north as New York State. After Colombus’ famous voyage to the western hemisphere maize was carried back first to Spain, then to India and the rest of the world.
Other chapters in the book focus on corn throughout the years and the influence on transportation, the creation of cities in the United States, the use of corn as a feed crop, and an entire chapter devoted solely to popcorn. Finally the author looks at the future of corn in terms of ethanol production, genetic modification, and a growing shortage of farmers. There are several recipes at the back as well as recommendations for where to find good quality cornmeal.
This book was published by the University of Illinois press and is a very well researched yet readable overview of corn in the US.
You can get the book reviewed here and more great titles to watch, read, listen to, or play with at the Port Library at 1718 N. Hersey in Beloit. This is director Rachel Malay, saying “Thanks for checking us out!”