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Posts Tagged ‘corn’

On Twitter, I have been following @LakotaMan1, who notes on this weekend that “America wasn’t discovered — it was invaded.”

As I don’t want to take anything from Italians who are proud of the ancestry of Columbus but I need to acknowledge what indigenous people suffered from European contact, I have decided just to talk about corn. We all know that Europeans knew nothing about corn until they opened their minds to learn a thing or two from the continent’s original inhabitants.

Dina Spector wrote at Business Insider, “Glass Gem corn, a unique variety of rainbow-colored corn, became an internet sensation in 2012 when a photo of the sparkling cob was posted to Facebook.

“Shortly after, the company that sells the rare seeds, Native Seeds/SEARCH, began ramping up production to meet the high demand. The Arizona-based company still sells Glass Gem seeds on its website.

“Meanwhile, a Facebook page devoted to Glass Gem allows growers to share pictures of the vibrant corn variety. But the story behind Glass Gem is just as remarkable. It begins with one man, Carl Barnes, who set out to explore his Native American roots.

“The history was largely retold by Barnes’ protégé, Greg Schoen, in 2012, when the corn gained national attention. …

Barnes, who died in 2016, was half-Cherokee. He began growing older corn varieties in his adult years. …

“In growing these older corn varieties, Barnes was able to isolate ancestral types that had been lost to Native American tribes when they were relocated to what is now Oklahoma in the 1800s. This led to an exchange of ancient corn seed with people he had met and made friends with all over the country.

“At the same time, Barnes began selecting, saving, and replanting seeds from particularly colorful cobs. Over time, this resulted in rainbow-colored corn.

“A fellow farmer, Greg Schoen, met Barnes in 1994 at a native-plant gathering in Oklahoma. Barnes had his rainbow-colored corn on display. Schoen was blown away. That following year, Barnes gave Schoen some of the rainbow seed. Schoen planted the first seeds that summer.

“Schoen and Barnes remained close friends, and over the years, Schoen received more samples of the rainbow seed. In the beginning, Schoen only grew small amounts of the colorful corn in New Mexico, where he moved in 1999. In 2005, Schoen began growing larger plots of the rainbow corn near Sante Fe, alongside more traditional varieties.

“When the rainbow corn mixed with the traditional varieties it created new strains. Each year of successive planting, the corn displayed more vibrant colors and vivid patterns.

“According to an account from Schoen, Barnes told him that the rainbow seed originally came from a crossing of ‘Pawnee miniature popcorns with an Osage red flour corn and also another Osage corn called “Greyhorse.” ‘ …

“In 2009, Schoen passed on several varieties of the rainbow seed to Bill McDorman, who owned an Arizona seed company called Seed Trust.

“At that time, McDorman was the executive director of Native Seeds/SEARCH, a non-profit conservation organization. He brought the Glass Gem seeds with him, and they can now be purchased online.”

Saving ancient seeds is important work. To learn about the Svalbard Island Global Seed Vault in Norway, read my 2015 post, here, and my 2017 update highlighting concern that the protective permafrost is melting there.

For a bit more background on rainbow corn and some lovely photos, click at Business Insider, here. No firewall.

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