Starch grain analysis in the temperate climates of eastern North America using the Delaware River Watershed as a case study for furthering scholarly understanding of the relationship between native people and their biophysical environment in the Woodland Period
People regularly use plants for a wide range of utilitarian, spiritual, pharmacological, and dietary purposes throughout the world. Scholarly understanding of the nature of these uses in prehistory is particularly limited by the poor preservation of plant resources in the archaeological record. In the last two decades, researchers in the South Pacific and in Central and South America have developed microscopic starch grain analysis, a technique for overcoming the limitations of poorly preserved plant material.
Messner’s analysis is based on extensive reviews of the literature on early historic, prehistoric native plant use, and the collation of all available archaeobotanical data, a review of which also guided the author in selecting contemporary botanical specimens to identify and in interpreting starch residues recovered from ancient plant-processing technologies. The evidence presented here sheds light on many local ecological and cultural developments as ancient people shifted their subsistence focus from estuarine to riverine settings. These archaeobotanical datasets, Messner argues, illuminate both the conscious and unintentional translocal movement of ideas and ecologies throughout the Eastern Woodlands.
Cod is one of the most widely consumed fish in the world. For many years, the Atlantic cod industry took center stage, but partly thanks to climate change and overfishing, it is more and more likely that the cod on your kitchen table or in your fast food fish fillets came from Alaska’s Pacific Cod Fishery.
Alaska Codfish Chronicle is the first comprehensive history of this fishery. It looks at the early decades of the fishery’s history, a period marked by hardship and danger, as well as the dominance of foreign fishermen. And the modern era, beginning in 1976 when the United States claimed an exclusive economic zone around the Alaska coasts, “Americanizing” the fishery and replacing the foreign fleets that had been ravaging the resources in the Gulf of Alaska and the Bering Sea. Today, the Pacific cod fishery is, in terms of poundage, the second largest fishery in Alaska, and considered among the best-managed fisheries in the world.
This history is extremely well documented, does not spare details, and is accessible to general readers. It incorporates nearly a hundred photographs and illustrations and is sprinkled with numerous observations from fishing industry journals and reports, even incorporating poems and recipes, making this an especially thorough and unique account of one of Alaska’s most iconic and important industries.
Alcohol in Ancient Mexico
Henry Bruman University of Utah Press, 2000 Library of Congress F1219.3.A42B78 2000 | Dewey Decimal 394.130972
Alcohol in Ancient Mexico reconstructs the variety and extent of distillation traditions in the ancient cultures of Mexico, describing in detail the various plants and processes used to make such beverages, their prevalence, and their significance for local culture.
The art of distillation arrived in Mexico with the Spaniards in the sixteenth century. However, well before that time, native skills and available resources had contributed to a well-developed tradition of intoxicating beverages, many of which are still produced and consumed.
In the 1930’s Henry Bruman visited various Mexican and Central American Indian tribes to reconstruct the variety and extent of these ancient traditions. He discerned five distinct areas defined by the culturally most significant beverages, all superimposed over the great mescal wine region. Within these five areas he noted wine made from cactus, cactus fruit, cornstalks, and mesquite pods; beer from sprouted maize; and fermented sap from pulque agaves.
Outside the mescal region he observed widespread consumption in the Yucatan of a wine made from fermented honey and balché bark, plus lesser-known beverages in other regions. He also observed the frequent inclusion in the fermentation process of alkaloid-bearing ingredients such as peyote and tobacco, plants whose roots or bark contain saponins—which act as cardiac poisons—and even poisons from certain toads.
Alcohol in Ancient Mexico also considers the relative absence of alcoholic drink in the southwestern United States, the introduction of sills following the Spanish conquest, and possible sources for the introduction of coconut wine.
Previously unpublished, the research presented here retains its relevance today, and the photographs offer a fascinating glimpse at a traditional world that has now almost vanished.
The cranberry, Vaccinium macrocarpon, is one of only three cultivated fruits native to North America. The story of this perennial vine began as the glaciers retreated about fifteen thousand years ago. Centuries later, it kept Native Americans and Pilgrims alive through the winter months, played a role in a diplomatic gesture to King Charles in 1677, protected sailors on board whaling ships from scurvy, fed General Grant’s men in 1864, and provided over a million pounds of sustenance per year to our World War II doughboys. Today, it is a powerful tool in the fight against various forms of cancer. This is America’s superfruit. This book poses the question of how the cranberry, and by inference other fruits, will fare in a warming climate. In her attempt to evaluate the effects of climate change, Susan Playfair interviewed growers from Massachusetts west to Oregon and from New Jersey north to Wisconsin, the cranberry’s temperature tolerance range. She also spoke with scientists studying the health benefits of cranberries, plant geneticists mapping the cranberry genome, a plant biologist who provided her with the first regression analysis of cranberry flowering times, and a migrant beekeeper trying to figure out why the bees are dying. Taking a broader view than the other books on cranberries, America’s Founding Fruit presents a brief history of cranberry cultivation and its role in our national history, leads the reader through the entire cultivation process from planting through distribution, and assesses the possible effects of climate change on the cranberry and other plants and animals. Could the American cranberry cease growing in the United States? If so, what would be lost?
Asian Smallholders in Comparative Perspective provides the first multicountry, inter-disciplinary analysis of the single most important social and economic formation in the Asian countryside: the smallholder. Based on ten core country chapters, the volume describes and explains the persistence, transformations, functioning and future of the smallholder and smallholdings across East and Southeast Asia. As well as providing a source book for scholars working on agrarian change in the region, it also engages with a number of key current areas of debate, including: the nature and direction of the agrarian transition in Asia, and its distinctiveness vis à vis transitions in the global North; the persistence of the smallholder notwithstanding deep and rapid structural change; and the question of the efficiency and productivity of smallholder-based farming set against concerns over global and national food security.
From the 1920s through the 1940s, American kitchens had a welcome guest in “Aunt Sammy,” a creation of the US Department of Agriculture and its Bureau of Home Economics. Through the radio program Housekeeper’s Chat, Aunt Sammy gave lively advice on food preparation, household chores, parenting and children, and gender dynamics as she encouraged women to embrace the radio and a host of modern consumer household products. The recipes she shared were gathered, in 1927, into a cookbook that became a valuable household manual for tens of thousands of Americans.
Aunt Sammy’s Radio Recipes revives the famous cookbook and joins it with extensive excerpts from the accompanying radio broadcasts, providing a fascinating study of how a witty and charming fictionalized personae became one of the early celebrity chefs of the radio age.