3 Types of Tarahumara Indian Corn and How They Are Used

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3 Indian Corns with 3 Different Uses

Marjory brought this video back from Mexico. Look at these 3 different corns – they’re beautiful! These are grown by the Tarahumara, off-grid, with goat manure fertilizer. Corn is super important to the Tarahumara – it’s one of their key staples.

The Tarahumara are known as exceptional runners, and they enjoy exceptional health. The area where the Tarahumara live has been called a “cold spot” because of unusually low rates of modern chronic diseases (including diabetes). A big part of the reason for their good health is because they grow almost all of their own food.

Marjory chronicled her entire trip to Mexico and she’s sharing the story here. You can read all about the way the Tarahumara tribe lives, including how they grow their own food and medicine, in her story Extreme Agri-Tourism: Off the Grid with the Tarahumara Indians

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Michael Ford


Contributor

Michael has been the resident editor at The [Grow] Network since January 2015. Michael grew up in St. Louis, where he became a lover of nature - hiking and fishing his way through the Ozark hills in Missouri. He attended Baylor University in Waco, TX, and he currently lives in Austin. Michael has background experience in small-scale farming, commercial growing, vegetable gardening, landscaping, marketing, and software development. He received his Permaculture Design Certification from the Austin Permaculture Guild in 2013.


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10 Comments
  • Alex

    Hi Marjory! I’m loving these videos and articles you are producing about the Tarahumara indians and their food. I really took an interest to their culture after reading Christopher McDougall’s book “Born to Run.” I think it’s really cool you spent time in that world and experienced their culture first hand. Keep up the great work!

  • Robin Hart-Cordell

    Thank you for your whole Tarahumara Indian trip story.

  • bert

    Wonderful reports on corn … I hope you will also be able to report on the method used to separate the kernels from the cobs. Most westerners are familiar with expensive “corn shellers” which can range from small standalone diesel or electric powered, to tractor powered to 1000hp combines.

    Also how they know the corn is ready for harvest. And after harvesting, how do they dry /perserve /protect the corn seeds, to prevent loss by molds, rodents, etc. Do they use the cobs for fuel, or compost?

    For families in northern areas, there are some new furnaces which run on corn kernels as fuel. Using standard pre-1950s yields of 25-40 bushels/acre, and a standard 50 lbs/bu and 9,000 BTU/lb for corn kernels, a family in say Missouri should be able to heat their home for a winter on 2½ to 4 acres. (Using “Pentagon Poop” as fertilizer, i.e. waste products of the chemical factories of the pentagon war machine … from nitrogen explosives to agent orange, et al, modern yields are pushing 200+ bu/acre.) Meaning they can preserve the monarch trees (silviculture) for shade and housing, and they don’t have to invest in expensive (and dangerous) tree harvesting equipment for heating purposes. And they get tons and tons of extremely valuable corn stalks (carbon!) for direct composting into the soil, preserving moisture etc. — but how would they shell 2-4 acres (100 to 150 bu) of corn needed for heat?

    • lois

      I would think they would just stick the whole corn cob in the stove just like a piece of wood. They have regular wood stoves in these locations. The corn kernel application is for stoves such as pellet stoves. If they were to just dump I a bunch of corn kernel it would put out their fire.

  • Hilary

    How do they maintain the purity of the different varieties? We hear about pollination contamination over long distances with corn, so I’m wondering how they handle this on a smaller scale? Are the fields separated? Do they pollinate at different times?

  • Kathy Chiavola

    Fascinating! Thank you!

  • The long-distance running tradition also has ceremonial and competitive aspects. Often, men kick wooden balls as they run in “foot throwing”,

  • Does anyone have Tarahumara corn kernals or seeds for sale ? I was particularily interested in the corn which provided them energy drinks that was in the summit video.

  • Ron Tischler

    While watching the presentation I wished that you would have been more detailed and mentioned the variety names of the corn and what each variety was used for.

  • B

    I would like to know if the Tarahumara people use limestone when preparing the corn to eat? I read their calcium source is the limestone and would like to know if it is true. I looked at a commercial prepared maize harina that was made with lime hydroxide I believe and it said it only had 4% calcium which is not much. Thank you.

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