Maize and Grace: Africa's Encounter with a New World Crop, 1500-2000

Maize and Grace Africa s Encounter with a New World Crop Sometime around A D an African farmer planted a maize seed imported from the New World That act set in motion the remarkable saga of one of the world s most influential crops one that would trans

  • Title: Maize and Grace: Africa's Encounter with a New World Crop, 1500-2000
  • Author: James C. McCann
  • ISBN: 9780674025578
  • Page: 280
  • Format: Paperback
  • Sometime around 1500 A.D an African farmer planted a maize seed imported from the New World That act set in motion the remarkable saga of one of the world s most influential crops one that would transform the future of Africa and of the Atlantic world Africa s experience with maize is distinctive but also instructive from a global perspective experts predict that bySometime around 1500 A.D an African farmer planted a maize seed imported from the New World That act set in motion the remarkable saga of one of the world s most influential crops one that would transform the future of Africa and of the Atlantic world Africa s experience with maize is distinctive but also instructive from a global perspective experts predict that by 2020 maize will become the world s most cultivated crop.James McCann moves easily from the village level to the continental scale, from the medieval to the modern, as he explains the science of maize production and explores how the crop has imprinted itself on Africa s agrarian and urban landscapes Today, maize accounts for than half the calories people consume in many African countries During the twentieth century, a tidal wave of maize engulfed the continent, and supplanted Africa s own historical grain crops sorghum, millet, and rice In the metamorphosis of maize from an exotic visitor into a quintessentially African crop, in its transformation from vegetable to grain, and from curiosity to staple, lies a revealing story of cultural adaptation As it unfolds, we see how this sixteenth century stranger has become indispensable to Africa s fields, storehouses, and diets, and has embedded itself in Africa s political, economic, and social relations.The recent spread of maize has been alarmingly fast, with implications largely overlooked by the media and policymakers McCann s compelling history offers insight into the profound influence of a single crop on African culture, health, technological innovation, and the future of the world s food supply.

    One thought on “Maize and Grace: Africa's Encounter with a New World Crop, 1500-2000”

    1. I had to read this for a class. It has plenty of interesting information, but it became very tedious to read. After a few chapters, it seemed like I was reading over and over about various summaries of studies on corn yields, different kinds of hybrid breeds of corn and yada yada. I wasn't all that interested in knowing the COMPLETE history of corn's (maize's) usage and development in Africa, but if you are interested then this is a good book for you.

    2. Corny title but more than just a kernel of interestBefore 1492 "and all that", African farmers grew a variety of crops, but certainly not maize or corn, as it is often called in North America. Very early on, during the Columbian exchange, maize came to Africa. It arrived from several different directions, as is evident in the names given by Africans to their new `wonder' crop. It came overland from Egypt and Arabia, it was brought by Portuguese traders, or later by other Europeans. At first, mai [...]

    3. this prominence (of maize) suggests to optimists that maize will be an engine of African economic growth, though the evidence of the past also makes it plausible that it may prove an unsustainable folly. If I were to pick one line from this book, it would be the above. It captures perfectly the vibe of the book, it is neither a negative book nor an optimistic book and I do have the feeling the author let's the readers make up his mind on the subject (based on the information he gives). There is [...]

    4. This book was incredibly revealing about how maize (corn) transformed the entire continent of Africa both agriculturally and human culturally. The book attempts to answer the question of what the true blessings of corn have been.It's a question that ends up creating more questions than answers by the time the work is done. As a historical or scientific work, it's a little bit on the light side, but it's reasonably well annotated with end notes and informative collections of data.If you've got an [...]

    5. My people call it corn. Four major types of maize came to Africa from two directions, the west coast, and from the north. If you are not thrilled by minutia, this book is not for you. This book trumps Omnivore's Dilemma for number of pages devoted to corn.

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