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Karen R. Adams – “Food for Thought: The Deep History of Your Dinner”

September 21 @ 7:00 pm - 8:30 pm MST

Any five-year old will tell you where our food comes from…the grocery store! But behind that simple truth is an extremely long history of human efforts to modify wild plants to make them more manageable, better tasting, and eventually highly productive. Human efforts at plant domestication began over 10,000 years ago in the Fertile Crescent and elsewhere.  People on most of the world’s continents domesticated a wide range of above-ground and below-ground plant parts, ranging from the stalk a leaf sits on (celery, rhubarb) to the corn, wheat, oats, rice, and barley grass grains that now feed the world. Some plants domesticated in prehistory (rampion, skirret) vanished over time, perhaps when better options came along. Multiple domesticates are known to have come from a single species: for example, in the Old World, different parts of the wild Brassica oleracea plant gave us cabbage, kohlrabi, brussels sprouts, kale, broccoli, and cauliflower. In the New World the fruit of wild Cucurbita plants were developed into pumpkins, zucchini, yellow, patty pan, and acorn squashes. Plant domestication is a process that can continue, as long as humans are interested in favored wild plants. Some current domestication efforts are focused in the DNA lab with Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs). This presentation illustrates that any single meal you sit down to eat today encompasses this world-wide long-term relationship between humans and the plants they tamed.


September 21
7:00 pm - 8:30 pm MST
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