The quantity and proportion of rural Mesoamerican household diet that comes from maize, the major crop, is critically important to understanding Mesoamerican food systems. Household maize consumption figures commonly used in studies of rural Mesoamerican agriculture, based on estimates made by household heads, are often between 500 and 900 grams per person per day. In contrast, estimates of daily per capita maize consumption based on studies of family food intake are much lower, ranging from 260 to 440 grams. Several lines of evidence, including estimated caloric requirements of the populations, suggest that estimates based on studies of dietary intake are more accurate than the higher figures based on informants' estimates. To obtain more reasonable estimates of household maize consumption, investigators should 1) elicit estimates of maize consumption using local units of measure and convert these estimates to weights based on weighing samples of local units, 2) collect data on weights of lime-cooked maize households pay to have ground daily at local mills and convert these into corresponding weights of dry maize, or 3) rely on estimates derived from local or regional studies of dietary intake.

This content is only available as a PDF.
You do not currently have access to this content.