What did the Olmecs eat?
The Olmec diet mainly consisted of squash, beans, manioc, sweet potatoes, tomatoes, and maize.
Olmec Food, Crops, and Diet They planted many of the same crops seen in the region today, such as squash, beans, manioc, sweet potatoes, and tomatoes. Maize was a staple of the Olmec diet, although it is possible that it was introduced late in the development of their culture.
The Olmec diet initially included foods from fishing and hunting. Maize and other crops were a later addition to their foodstuffs. The Olmec created massive monuments, including colossal stone heads, thrones, stela (upright slabs), and statues.
Popularly consumed as a beverage, the Olmec fermented the cacao with pulp intact. In the early days, cacao beverages were produced solely from the pulp of the fruit.
Olmec farmers grew maize, beans, chilies, tomatoes, and squashes. They kept dogs and chickens for meat. As well as that the Olmecs hunted deer and peccaries (wild pigs). The Olmecs also fished and collected shellfish.
The Maya, Aztec, and Inca civilizations ate simple food. Corn (maize) was the central food in their diet, along with vegetables such as beans and squash. Potatoes and a tiny grain called quinoa were commonly grown by the Incas.
Chocolate was one of the most desired foods of Mesoamerica and was consumed by the Olmec, Maya, and Aztec civilizations, amongst others. The earliest known use of chocolate was by the Olmec around 1900 BCE and, enjoyed as a drink, it was drunk from special round jars known as tecomates.
In The True Story of Chocolate, they argue that cacao in the form of a chocolate beverage originated with the Olmec. According to Coe and Coe, cacao originally pronounced “kakawa,” was a term used by the ancient Olmec as early as 1000 BCE.
They believed cacao was given to them by their gods. Like the Mayans, they enjoyed the caffeinated kick of hot or cold, spiced chocolate beverages in ornate containers, but they also used cacao beans as currency to buy food and other goods. In Aztec culture, cacao beans were considered more valuable than gold.
Early Olmec Eventually, the Olmec realized the land around the rivers was good for growing crops. Rivers made it possible for the Olmec to create irrigation systems, and they began to grow a variety of food, such as squash, beans, and maize (a hearty, multi-colored grain similar to corn).
The Olmec were American Indians, not Negroes (as Melgar had thought) or Nordic supermen.”
Mesoamerican people began to cultivate manioc, beans, chili peppers, avocados, and gourds. By 4000 B.C.E., maize had become the major staple crop of the region. Tomatoes were later added as a crop that they cultivated.
On special occasions chocolate was mixed with ground maize and spiced with chili. Beans and squash were often planted in the same hole with the maize or the rows between.
Who invented chocolate? Chocolate’s 4,000-year history began in ancient Mesoamerica, present day Mexico. It’s here that the first cacao plants were found. The Olmec, one of the earliest civilizations in Latin America, were the first to turn the cacao plant into chocolate.
The Mayans consumed chocolate by first harvesting the seeds — or beans — from cacao trees. They fermented and dried them, roasted them, removed their shells, and ground them into paste. This nutritious drink seems to have been the most common Mayan method of consuming chocolate.