in Our Daily Bread, Podcasts

The Abundance of Nature Our Daily Bread 01

In the 1960s, using the most primitive of tools, an American plant scientist demonstrated that a small family, working not all that hard for about three weeks, could gather enough wild cereal seeds to last them easily for a year or more. Jack Harlan’s experiments on the slopes of the Karacadağ mountains in Turkey offer a perfect gateway to this exploration of the history of bread and wheat.

Photo of Wild einkorn, wild emmer and Aegilops species in Karacadag mountain range by H. Γ–zkan.

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  1. Excellent presentation. Harlan’s powerful paper [Harlan JR. 1967 A wild wheat harvest in Turkey. Archaeology 20, 197–201] was a key reference in our recent attempt to provide a generic explanation for the origins of cereal agriculture [DOI: 10.1098/rspb.2018.0277]. Our paper reviewed the ecology of the immediate wild relatives of einkorn, emmer and barley and found – as Harlan had demonstrated – that they grow in `massive’ monodominant stands (as do the relatives of oats, rye and Asian rice).
    We suggested that this ancestral monodominance validated present-day cereal monocultures.
    A common adaptive feature of these Asian cereal relatives is their long awns – clearly seen in the photo. These awns have tiny ratchet teeth capable of burying the unusually large seeds in the ground: perhaps an explanation as to why modern cereal farming needs so much tilling and deep seeding to replace the previous shattering and seed burying found in nature.

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  • I hope you’re following Jeremy’s series on bread this month! Good stuff. @EatPodcast #ourdailybread

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  • A monthlong series of mini podcasts by Jeremy Cherfas on the history of bread, starting today. eatthispodcast.com/our-daily-brea…

  • Fascinating podacast on history of #bread #wheat
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