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Native American farmers were well acquainted with the plants that grew in their world. In ancient times, they had domesticated wild plants to produce many varieties of maize, potatoes, beans, and squash. These basic foods became staples in large parts of the Americas. The fat red tomatoes and glossy peppers that seemed so exotic to early European explorers were familiar crops to many native farmers. And Native American cooks knew hundreds of ways to prepare and serve their grains, fruits, and vegetables.