Midwest Maize: How Corn Shaped the U.S. Heartland



How Corn Changed Itself and then

Changed Everything Else


By: Cynthia Clampitt




Saturday, March 7th, 2015 at 10 AM

Kendall College, School of Culinary Arts

900 N. North Branch Street, Chicago

(West of Halsted Street, North of Chicago Avenue)

Free Parking in the student lot across the street, not in front, please!

Cost: $3. Free to Kendall students and faculty with ID.



About 10,000 years ago, a weedy grass growing in Mexico possessed of a strange trait known as a “jumping gene” transformed itself into a larger and more useful grass—the cereal grass that we would come to know as maize and then corn. Nurtured by early farmers in the Oaxaca region, this grain would transform the Americas even before First Contact. After First Contact, it would span the globe, with mixed results, but for newcomers to North America, it expanded its influence from rescuing a few early settlers to creating the Midwest. Today, it is more important than ever. As Margaret Visser noted in her classic work Much Depends on Dinner, “Without corn, North America—and most particularly modern, technological North America—is inconceivable.”


Cynthia Clampitt is a writer and food historian. A fourth generation foodie, Clampitt has always considered food a topic worth studying. She has pursued her love of culture, history, and food in thirty-seven countries on six continents (so far). She began writing about food history in 1996 and joined Culinary Historians of Chicago in 1999. She is the author of Midwest Maize: How Corn Shaped the U.S. Heartland, published by the University of Illinois Press. In addition to CHC, she is a member of the Society of Women Geographers, the Agricultural History Society, and the history section of the International Association of Culinary Professionals.


This program is hosted by the Greater Midwest Foodways and Culinary Historians of Chicago. To reserve, please call (847) 432-8255, then leave your name, telephone number and how many people in your party or e-mail.