ta­ble talk

Mt Druitt - St Mary's Standard (East) - - LIFESTYLE -

THE most re­mark­able thing about the his­tory of agri­cul­ture is not that hu­mans emerged from their an­cient ways and dis­cov­ered how to tame both an­i­mals and plants, it is the sim­ple (though al­most st en­tirely over­looked) fact that this oc­curred in several un­con­nected parts of the world al­most si­mul­ta­ne­ously.

As such, the rise of agri­cul­ture may not be the icon of hu­man progress ss for which it is so often feted, ted, but sim­ply an in­tu­itive re­sponse to some ex­ter­nal er­nal force.

In Me­sopotamia, the e Mid­dle East, Africa, China and Cen­tral Amer­ica com­mu­ni­tiess be­gan plant­ing grains s and veg­eta­bles around d 9000BC.

The last ice age ended roughly 11,000BC, depend­ing on which part of the planet you in­hab­ited, trig­ger­ing a radical change in plant be­hav­iour.

In re­sponse, hu­mans ns ceased their prac­tice of con­tin­ual move­ment to chase the sea­sons, and in­stead es­tab­lished fixed ac­com­mo­da­tion, re­ly­ing on an in­ter­ac­tion with the land to help en­sure the next year’s crop. In China it was rice, mil­let and soy; in the Mid­dle East einkorn einkorn, bar­ley, peas and lentils; i in Me­sopotamia vetch, ch chick­peas and flax; in Africa s sorghum and man­ioc; while in Cen­tral Amer­ica it was corn corn, toma­toes, pota­toes and squash. Of all the squash va­ri­eties that wou would evolve through hy­bridi hy­bridi­s­a­tion and se­lec­tive breed breed­ing, it was the hard­shel shelled ones we came to cal call pump­kins that held t the great­est value. Their nat­u­ral pro­tec­tive cas­ing e en­abled them to be s stored for months, ex­tend­ing the life of the sea­son and t thereby food sup­ply. To­day we re­gard pu pump­kin as a fam­ily fav favourite veg­etable – swe sweet, rich and vers ver­sa­tile – but each and ev­ery mouth­ful is a de­li­cio de­li­cious re­minder of how we and our com­mu­nity came to ex­ist at all.

To­day we re­gard pump­kin as a fam­ily favourite

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