National Public Radio has a nice piece on making and tasting olive oil in Italy.
Another example of a wild species being farmed: this article in the San Francisco Chronicle tells the story of Hoodia gordonii cultivation in southern Africa. The species is the source of a hunger suppressant which Unilever has been licensed to commercialize, with a royalty payment going to San tribesmen. Another Hoodia species may have potential as a salad vegetable. Prices are such that there is a thriving smuggling trade in wild-harvested product. Some Namibian farmers are trying to cultivate the plant – organically – but it is not easy.
The juice and pulp of the fruits of the Amazonian palm Euterpe oleracea (açaí) have long been consumed locally but are increasingly used in juices and nutraceutical beverages aimed at the North American market. They are harvested from the wild, but some people are now thinking plantations too. But speaking of wild harvesting of fruits/nuts, this article suggests that this can be sustainable only where it is not accompanied by hunting of key seed dispersers.
Woodlands as players in human history
The great Cambridge botanist Oliver Rackham has a new book out, called “Woodlands.” Insofar as it is fair to say that the life work of such a Renaissance Man hasÂ only one subject, woodlands is it, and how trees are not â€œmerely part of the theatre of landscape in which human history is played out, or the passive recipients of whatever destiny humanity foists on them . . . (they are) actors in the play.â€ There’s an admiring and knowledgeable review here.
Ancient Greek wine
Check out this interesting article on the surprising properties of some of the wines produced in some regions of ancient Greece as a result of the addition of various herbs. I wonder if there is enough information in the relevant texts to reproduce some of these concoctions.