The opportunities of what to explore when the focus is corn, and the challenge is to weave its story and lore into a cooking workshop, are just so plentiful! My starting point was guided by my belief that it is important to understand a plant through appreciating its role in the food, medicine, clothing and knowledge traditions of the Original Peoples whose territory we are on. And even this is something that could be broken down into so many different workshops, so all we did was open a husk or two 🙂
We started with learning the names of the Nations who traditional territory that we are on. In Kitchener, Waterloo, Cambridge and Brantford we are on the traditional territory of the Neutral, Anishnawbe (Ah-nish-nah-bay) and Haudenosaunee (Ho-deh-no-show-nee) peoples.
We explored creation stories and the Legend of the Three Sisters. Corn, beans, and squash are recognized as the Three Sisters throughout Turtle Island and Mesoamerica. This alone deserves a moment to sink in, recognizing that corn (also known as maize) was grown (and eaten) traditionally with these companion plants for thousands of years.
Read about the Iroquois Legend of The Three Sisters on the Iroquois White Corn Project website, a local project working to keep alive some of the traditional corn varieties whose cultivation dates back at least 1,400 years in Haudenosaunee (Iroquois) communities.
We also explored the great variety of uses of corn and corn products in the world around us.
What else could we have explored? The use of corn and corn products beyond just food consumption among the traditional peoples who have cultivated it in years past and currently is one, but we could also explore the struggles around Genetically Modified Corn and the ongoing battle in Mexico and many other nations to prevent it’s arrival. We could have looked into the role of corn as a bio-fuel and the environmental impacts that makes…and the list goes on.
What we did do though with the remainder of our workshop time was to make some super yummy vegan corn chowder, and corn-quinoa muffins. Oh and the girls started planning out and acting a play in their spare time that they are all going to present this coming week, when we eat together again 🙂