Saturday, February 25, 2012

Illustrations of Carrots in Ancient Manuscripts

I found interesting article a few weeks ago via a daily newsfeed: 

Food and Nutrition:
“What we eat, why we eat it, how we eat it, and what it does” RSS
Curated by Jeremy Cherfas

It concerns old knowledge... which is why I have included this image and its quote below!
Ancient medical texts may provide scientists with promising research avenues today.
Photo by Martin Macinski/Courtesy 

Read more: 
here. According to an article from BBC News, the first concrete scientific proof of herbs and plants’ actual use in fighting various illnesses has been discovered in the form of clay pills from an Italian merchant vessel dated to 120 B.C.E. Tests by the Smithsonian Institute have revealed that these pills (kept sealed in tin boxes and “the size of coins”) contained carrot, parsley, wild onions, alfalfa, yarrow, celery and radish. They were likely used to treat intestinal diseases on board the ship and diluted with vinegar or water to ease ingestion.  

This post is actually about carrots and a Carrot Museum!

image from here.

Image from Bibliodyssey - carrot images on left

To see images of carrots from historically fascinating sources click the website below. All images are protected from sharing so you will need to visit the site to see the illustrations.

I you wish to visit another wonderful site go to Bibliodyssey above... an extraodinary blog with a wonderful global following! - February 6, 7:30 PM

Carrots as illustrated in Ancient Manuscripts

Now pictures of carrot varieties from mediaeval illuminated manuscripts have been brought together: Illustrations of Carrot, Daucus, Pastinaca and Staphylinos...Herbals are a particularly interesting group in the history of written communication in that they have always been in circulation since the antiquities and were not 'rediscovered' during the renaissance.
Despite the faithful transcription of the manuscript text by monastic scribes, distortions inevitably crept in as the work passed from one hand to the next. Greater variation exists among the illustrations which were often painted without reference to the living world.

Harry S. Paris, Marie-Christine Daunay and Jules Janick have had several beautifully illustrated papers in Annals of Botany over recent years with rigorous analysis of the cucumbers (Cucumis) and Solanaceae species : Occidental diffusion of cucumber (Cucumis sativus) 500-1300 CE: two routes to Europe. Ann Bot (2012) 109(1): 117-126 

Medieval herbal iconography and lexicography of Cucumis (cucumber and melon, Cucurbitaceae) in the Occident, 1300-1458. Ann Bot (2011) 108(3): 471-484 

The Cucurbitaceae and Solanaceae illustrated in medieval manuscripts known as the Tacuinum Sanitatis
Ann Bot (2009) 103(8): 1187-1205 

Via Annals of Botany: Plant Science Research

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Incredible Edible and other readings on biodiversity and more...


The grass book was direct marketing piece sent out in Spain for the Disney movie “The Jungle Book 2” in 2003 (Thank you kleinereisbar for the info!)
read about this here

This strikingly simple image below draws immediate attention to the seeds contained within the pear. Seeds are easily un-noticed in daily life ... unless we somehow work with seeds we may give little thought to them. This images curiously brings the seeds to the fore...

By Mary Woodman
Nature in its Simplicity
Mary Woodman: Nature in its simplicity. Image found here from artists website.

This morning I found a couple of books through twitter that caught my eye. One non-fiction, the other a novel.

Large jacket version

  • Paperback
  • ISBN:9780521170871
  • 630pages
  • 111 b/w illus. 10 colour illus. 34 tables
    • Dimensions: 247 x 174 mm
    • Weight: 1.24kg
    • Not yet published - available from February 2012
    • £45.00
    View other formats: 

    The introduction of plant and animal agriculture represents one of the most important milestones in human evolution. It contributed to the development of cities, alphabets, new technologies, and ultimately to civilizations, but it has also presented a threat to both human health and the environment. Bringing together research from a range of fields including anthropology, archaeology, ecology, economics, entomology, ethnobiology, genetics and geography, this book addresses key questions relating to agriculture. Why did agriculture develop and where did it originate? What are the patterns of domestication for plants and animals? How did agroecosystems originate and spread from their locations of origin? Exploring the cultural aspects of the development of agricultural ecosystems, the book also highlights how these topics can be applied to our understanding of contemporary agriculture, its long-term sustainability, the co-existence of agriculture and the environment, and the development of new crops and varieties.


    • A synthesis of the most recent research results and implications for the origin of crops and domesticated animals • Provides examples of how crop and animal genetic diversity contributes to sustainability of agriculture, enabling a better understanding of the value of genetic diversity • Explores the cultural aspects of the development of agriculture ecosystems, highlighting the wider context

    Table of Contents

    List of contributors
    Foreword Bruce D. Smith
    Introduction. The domestication of plants and animals: ten unanswered questions Paul Gepts, Robert Bettinger, Stephen Brush, Ardeshir Damania, Thomas Famula, Patrick McGuire and Calvin Qualset
    1. The local origins of domestication Jared Diamond
    Part I. Early Steps in Agricultural Domestication: 2. Evolution of agro-ecosystems: biodiversity, origins and differential development David R. Harris
    3. From foraging to farming in western and eastern Asia Ofer Bar-Yosef
    4. Predomestic cultivation during the late Pleistocene and early Holocene in the Northern Levant George Willcox
    5. New archaeobotanical information on plant domestication from macro-remains: tracking the evolution of domestication syndrome traits Dorian Q. Fuller
    6. New archaeobotanical information on early cultivation and plant domestication involving microplant remains Dolores R. Piperno
    7. How and why did agriculture spread? Peter Bellwood
    8. California Indian proto-agriculture: its characterization and legacy M. Kat Anderson and Eric Wohlgemuth
    Part II. Domestication of Animals and Impacts on Humans: 9. Pathways to animal domestication Melinda A. Zeder
    10. Genetics of animal domestication Leif Andersson
    11. Genome-wide approaches for the study of dog domestication Bridgett M. vonHoldt, Melissa M. Gray and Robert K. Wayne
    12. Malaria and rickets represent selective forces for the convergent evolution of adult lactase persistence Loren Cordain, Mathew S. Hickley and Kami Kim
    Part III. Issues in Plant Domestication: 13. The dynamics of rice domestication: a balance between gene flow and genetic isolation Susan R. McCouch, Michael J. Kovach, Megan Sweeney, Hui Jiang and Mande Semon
    14. Domestication of lima beans: a new look at an old problem M. I. Chacón S., J. R. Motta-Aldana, M. L. Serrano S. and D. G. Debouck
    15. Genetic characterization of cassava (Manihot esculenta Crantz) and yam (Dioscorea trifida L.) landraces in swidden agriculture systems in Brazil Elizabeth A. Veasey, Eduardo A. Bressan, Marcos V. B. M. Siqueira, Aline Borges, Jurema R. Queiroz-Silva, Kayo J. C. Pereira, Gustavo H. Recchia and Lin Chau Ming
    16. Pigeonpea – from an orphan to a leader in food legumes C. L. Laxmipathi Gowda, K. B. Saxena, R. K. Srivastava, H. D. Upadhyaya and S. N. Silim
    Part IV. Traditional Management of Biodiversity: 17. Ecological approaches to crop domestication D. B. McKey, M. Elias, B. Pujol and A. Duputié
    18. Agrobiodiversity shifts on three continents since Vavilov and Harlan: assessing causes, processes and implications for food security Gary Paul Nabhan, Ken Wilson, Ogonazar Aknazarov, Karim-Aly Kassam, Laurie Monti, David Cavagnaro, Shawn Kelly, Tai Johnson and Ferrell Sekacucu
    19. Indigenous peoples conserving, managing, and creating biodiversity Jan Salick
    20. Land architecture in the Maya lowlands: implications for sustainability B. L. Turner II and Deborah Lawrence
    21. Agrobiodiversity and water resources in agricultural landscape evolution (Andean Valley irrigation, Bolivia, 1986 to 2008) Karl S. Zimmerer
    Part V. Uses of Biodiversity and New and Future Domestications: 22. Participatory domestication of indigenous fruit and nut trees: new crops for sustainable agriculture in developing countries Roger R. B. Leakey
    23. The introduction and dispersal of Vitis vinifera into California: a case study of the interaction of man, plants, economics, and environment James Lapsley
    24. Genetic resources of yeast and other micro-organisms Charles W. Bamforth
    25. Biodiversity of native bees and crop pollination with emphasis on California Robbin W. Thorp
    26. Aquaculture, the next wave of domestication Dennis Hedgecock
    27. Genetic sustainability and biodiversity: challenges to the California dairy industry Juan F. Medrano

    The other book:

    This is the village where much of the action took place.

    see more photos 

    The novel is selling for US $ 2.99 on kindle and around $14 in hard copy here.

    I added it to the homage to the seed page on Facebook this morning:

    All profits from the sale of this book will be distributed to the Campaign for Access to Essential Medicines of Médecins Sans Frontières/Doctors Without Borders and the Institute of Biodiversity Conservation in Ethiopia. Through These Veins (9780983249801): Anne Marie Ruff: Books

     ·  ·  · 2 hours ago

    I hope you noticed that fine print:

    All profits from the sale of this book will be distributed to the Campaign for Access to Essential Medicines of Médecins Sans Frontières/Doctors Without Borders and the Institute of Biodiversity Conservation in Ethiopia.

    SO where does Incredible  Edoble come into the story? This morning I posted this wonderful story on Tumblr:

    Incredible Edible: 'It's not all about free food'

    Image found through title link.

    In 2008, as the economy was going downhill and fears about climate change were on the rise, Pam Warhurst, a businesswoman and former council leader in Todmorden, Yorkshire, decided to do something positive in her community. Her bright idea involved food and the use of public spaces and it quickly caught her neighbours’ imagination. Now the seed Warhurst planted in Todmorden is not only bearing fruit – it’s taking root in other towns across the UK and as far away as New Zealand.
    The idea was beautifully simple. All over town, green areas of public land were going to waste. Even cultivated areas were not being used to their potential. Meanwhile, people were buying their food from far-flung places. Why not put these public spaces to more productive use? Before long, edible things were cropping up all over town in green spaces the organisation refers to as “propaganda gardens”.
    “At first, we had trouble getting people to help themselves,” says Mary Clear, “because we’re from a country where people say, ‘Get off my land’, so we had to tell people it was OK.” Now, locals are volunteering as well as picking: there are 273 people on Incredible Edible’s “muck-in” list. Local food shops have come around to the idea and, says Warhurst, “nearly 50% said it had had a positive impact on their income”. “It’s not all about free food,” Clear stresses. The propaganda gardens exist to remind people that food can be grown close to home.
    The project has been welcomed by the local authority and has also attracted outside interest. “People came from New Zealand and are now adopting edible spaces in the rebuilding of Christchurch,” says Warhurst. The Incredible Edible movement has now spread to 30 other towns around the UK and beyond.
    Click on heading above to go to guardian and see video!
    posted from Guardian article by sophie munns

    Well.... i hope you are inspired as I was....
    PS Enjoy you weekend everyone!

    Wednesday, February 15, 2012

    Adding spice to one's life!

    When I take time to think about preparing food with care and creativity... maybe for a special occasion ... and sometimes just because one feels better when some effort is made.... the thing I start with is the herbs and spices I wish to use or seek out.

    I am just back from a trip to Sydney via Newcastle where I found time to share  conversations and delicious plates of delectable foods with quite a few different friends over the twelve days I was away.

    I arrived in Newcastle on a windy, rainy evening in time for dinner ... a big bowl of delicious soup my friend had cooked. Next morning the children and I visited the nearby community garden. 

    Local restaurant staff who've cultivated some things for their kitchen at this garden were to be seen foraging for the day's special finds and happy to chat with us.

    They pointed out these garlic flowers were very pungent and one flower equal to a garlic clove.

    Another friend cooked up a dinner (small pic below) with wonderful Morroccan aromas... the preserved lemons stayed on my mind and I then bought some when in Sydney so I could savour them again.

    In Sydney I got to taste dishes from Malta, Turkey, Greece, Morrocco, Hungary, Thailand, Vietnam, Italy and no doubt more if I could recall. So often the unique combination of herbs and spices are what adds  dimension to the flavours that distinguish these various cuisines.

    My fascination with Ethnobotany arises out of this engagement with the histories, plant heritages and cuisines of countries and people from all around the globe. Eating at diverse tables is one way to be introduced to this global panorama of cultural and biological diversity.

    Visiting places like Vietnamese restaurant Phamish whilst on my holiday was a treat indeed... one blogger I found tonight wrote about his fav dish here and I can agree it was excellent. My friends and I shared some dishes and this was one of them.

    Duck and Prawn Pancakes: Filled with roast duck, prawns and fresh Vietnamese herb $21 (3 pieces)

    read the Design review for Phamish
    When living in Melbourne (1988-2000) the Vietnamese eating precinct in Richmond was not far from my home-base in Collingwood. My local street then filled up with Vietnamese grocers and cheep cafes so I became very familiar with the wonderful spices and herbs that were featured in the daily dishes. 
    Phamish is an inner city Sydney restaurant with higher prices than those humble places I once habituated ...but when I say higher prices I don't mean steep nor poor value. It was a memorable offering!

    what spices go best with what foods?
    image found here.
    This image gets me thinking about what I have stored away in my cupboard. I try to use things reasonably quickly as they taste fresh if not left too long.

    One thing I was ever so pleased to do this time I visited Sydney was go to 745 Darling St, Rozelle to the famous Herbie's spices... a wonderful store pictured below.

    above photos from here
    Herbies is .... Ian (Herbie) Hemphill and Liz Hemphill who've been associated with spices for over 40 years. A quick visit to their website will tell you why this is a much respected business and so appealing to a wide customer base.

    One of the publications to come from Herbies is pictured below. I've borrowed their books frequently from libraries over the years... really should have my own copy of this one I think.

    Of course it smells wonderful stepping into this shop. Then the visual takes over ... and ones senses are brought to life. When I went in on Saturday Liz Hemphill was working and I talked with her about my homage to the seed project hoping it might be possible to take some photographs. She was extremely gracious and helpful and I was able to take the following photographs of some of the australian native spices they carry as well as other stock.

    The Wattleseed they use is from Central Australia ... Acacia aneura ... and it is safe to eat unlike many other species. 

    Herbies kindly give good information online re all their products:
    WATTLESEED Roasted and Ground 15g
    WATTLESEED Roasted and Ground 15g 
    Other Common Names: Mulga Botanical Name: (Acacia aneura) 

    Description & Use: There are only a small number of edible wattles, the others being poisonous, therefore the gathering of one’s own Wattleseed should only be conducted under expert guidance. The Wattleseed of culinary use is always roasted and ground, a process that gives it an appetizing coffee-like aroma and taste. Wattleseed flavours ice-cream and desserts, and when used with other spices such as Coriander Seed, imparts a pleasant, barbecued taste to meats, especially full-flavoured seafood such as Salmon and Tuna.

    Chocolate Wattleseed Biscuits:

    300g self raising flour

    125g caster sugar

    25g cocoa powder

    250g soft unsalted butter

    3 tsp Herbie’s ground wattleseed

    Sieve flour, cocoa and wattleseed

    Cream butter and sugar then work in flour mixture (will look dry but will bind into dough)

    Roll into small balls and place on greased baking sheets then press down with back of a fork

    Bake at 170C for 5 mins then turn down to 150C for 10-15 mins

    Transfer carefully to wire rack to cool and harden (each batch should make 35-40 biscuits)

    Another indigenous spice is the Pepperberry: Tasmannia lanceolata.

    Other Common Names: Australian Native Pepperberry, Mountain Pepperberry, Mountain Pepperleaf. Botanical Name: (Tasmannia lanceolata) 
    Description & Use: Both the berries and leaves are used from this Australian Native shrub. Pepperberries are dark-blue to black in colour and have an intensely strong pepper bite that is accompanied by a mineral-like aftertaste that lingers and builds in heat over a period of about 5 minutes after consumption. Use with care, about one tenth the amount one would use of conventional pepper. The pepperleaf is far milder and gives a pleasant, Australian outback taste to food when used as a substitute for normal pepper. Sprinkle onto chicken and fish with ground Lemon Myrtle leaf and a little salt.

    One wall behind the counter was set up for show and tell purposes. Kind of like the spice shelves one would have in ones dream kitchen yes? Reminds me of pots of paint really.
    Last year at the Eden Project in Cornwall UK we painted with paints made from spices
    which I mentioned on this post

    spice paints

     The colours are most appealing...subtle and sensuous.

    Interesting to know how many kinds of edible pepper there must be.

    This bundle of cinnamon is how it is transported ... the scent is only released when the sticks are broken.

     Here are some of the indigenous spices from Australia:

    This one below I had to purchase... it smelt unbelievably delicious. I gave a packet of this today to Richard, the artisan baker at Brewbakers because I thought he might put it to good use.

    Interesting the part that species have played in medicine and the history of the world for that matter. Much has been written, even quite recently, on the spice trade.

    The spice mix in the middle jar is a tribute to the locality where the shop is based. Darling Street extends from Rozelle into Balmain... a central and picturesque part of Sydney.

    If you can't get to this shop sometime then do go visit the website... they send things via mail!

    I have to apologise for not having time always to post my own stories and photographs at this Homage to the Seed blog.  However, on the other hand, there is a dearth of important seed related stories that I am tracking daily through online sources and feel its important to share through this blog so I do hope you will follow here whenever you can and share the stories that speak to you...reblog them elsewhere if possible.

    Always great to read your comments.

    Have an excellend week... and add a little spice won't you!

    Sunday, February 12, 2012

    Russia’s promises to the world, Part 1

    This share comes from an excellent new blog I found via twitter last night. Well worth a hop over there to read much more from VAVIBLOG. But here's a taste...

    Nikolai Vavilov

    Russia’s promises to the world, Part 1

    by JEREMY on APRIL 5, 2011 · 0 COMMENTS
    The Director of the Vavilov Institute, Nikolay Dzyubenko, reminded participants at last week’sberry meeting that the Russian Federation had made firm commitments to share its genetic resources with the world. He mentioned two recent statements by political leaders, and thanks to the good offices of Sergey Alexanian, Vice Director for International Relations at the Vavilov Institute, we can share them here.
    4110457440 bfc89e3baf mSpeaking at the World Summit on Food Security at FAO headquarters in Rome in November 2009, the Minister of Agriculture Yelena Skrynnik said: “Russia supports the collective efforts of the world community in their struggle against hunger, and … As an explicit contribution to the solution of this task, Russia is ready to commence the procedure of incorporating the renowned unique global plant genetic resources collection of the Vavilov Institute into the system of the International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture.”
    Not too sure how that’s going.
    Photo Copyright FAO.
    Ive written about Vavilov before ... these notes are from Wiki:
    Nikolai Vavilov

    Nikolai Vavilov
    BornNovember 25 [O.S. November 13]1887
    Moscow, Russian Empire
    DiedJanuary 26, 1943 (age 55)
    Saratov, RSFSR, Soviet Union
    Nikolai Ivanovich Vavilov (Russian: Никола́й Ива́нович Вави́лов) (November 25 [O.S. November 13] 1887 – January 26, 1943) was a prominent Russian and Soviet botanist and geneticist best known for having identified the centres of origin of cultivated plants. He devoted his life to the study and improvement ofwheat, corn, and other cereal crops that sustain the global population.
    Known for
    Centres of origin
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