|Tamale from Radical Eats, Houston, TX|
But along with the rise of this monophagous (single sourced) diet came the spread of a disease: pellagra. Patients stricken had skin lesions, dementia, and, given the medical care at the time, died soon after. Primitive epidemiology tracked the problem to primarily corn eating populations. Perhaps it was contamination or some kind of pathogen in the corn. Pellagra reached epidemic proportions in the heavily corn consuming poor people of the southern USA.
|Roasted sweet corn in a cup (elotes) at Max's Wine Dive, Houston, TX|
So, if you find yourself worried that your food "contains chemicals", "chemically processed", or involved things that cannot be pronounced easily - consider the history of maize in the Western diet. While one of the most genetically modified crops in human history, the link to pellagra, as it turns out, was insufficient technology.