John Ruskin Taught Victorian Readers and Travelers the Art of Cultivation

He was refined, very famous, and eccentric. Near the dawn of the twentieth century, a young Englishwoman named Lucy is visiting an ancient church in Florence, unsure of what she is looking at, or how, exactly, to see it. She doesn’t have her Baedeker, a popular travel guide, and is feeling lost without it. “She[…]

Agriculture in Ancient Rome

The great majority of the people ruled by Rome were engaged in agriculture. Introduction Roman Agriculture describes the farming practices of ancient Rome, an era that lasted 1000 years. From humble beginnings, the Roman Republic (509 BCE to 27 BCE) and empire (27 BCE to 476 CE) expanded to rule much of  Europe, northern Africa, and the Middle East and thus comprised a large[…]

Agriculture in Ancient Greece

Agriculture was the foundation of the Ancient Greek economy. Nearly 80% of the population was involved in this activity.[1] Agricultural Products Farm During the early time of Greek history, as shown in the Odyssey, Greek agriculture – and diet – was based on cereals (sitos, though usually translated as wheat, could in fact designate any type of cereal grain). Even if the ancients were[…]

Picturing the Farms of Ohio and Pennsylvania in the Late 18th Century

For a small price, Ferdinand Brader would draw a bird’s-eye view of someone’s homestead. When Ferdinand A. Brader (1833–1901) left Switzerland for America in the early 1870s, he carried with him the skills of a mold-maker and a baker. Born and raised in the Swiss town of Kaltbrunn, Canton of St. Gallen, he worked in[…]

Food in the Roman World

What the Romans ate and how. By Mark CartwrightHistorian Introduction The ancient Mediterranean diet revolved around four staples, which, even today, continue to dominate restaurant menus and kitchen tables: cereals, vegetables, olive oil and wine. Seafood, cheese, eggs, meat and many types of fruit were also available to those who could afford it. The Romans[…]

Following a New Trail of Crumbs to Agriculture’s Origins

Archaeologists have found tiny pieces of ancient bread from hunter-gatherers that predate agriculture by about 4,000 years. It’s mid-August in 2013, and we are working in the dry heat of the Jordanian Harra basalt desert. It is the last week of our second season of excavations at the 14,500-year-old archaeological site called Shubayqa 1. We[…]

Farmland Blues: The Legacy of USDA Discrimination

The history of discrimination by the United States Department of Agriculture and the class action lawsuits by black farmers. The Disopossession What happened in rural America during the quarter century after 1950 has been eclipsed by the Cold War, the civil rights movement, the war in Vietnam, and growing concern over pesticides, nuclear testing, and[…]

Softer, Processed Foods Changed the Way Ancient Humans Spoke

Considering language from a biological perspective led researchers to the idea that new food processing technologies affected neolithic human beings’ jaws – and allowed new language sounds to emerge. The human capacity for language divides our species from the rest of the animal kingdom. Language has not only allowed us to conquer all corners of[…]

Friedrich Haberlandt’s Failed Vision: Soy in European Food Cultures, 1873–1945

The “age of extremes” from 1914 to 1945 created renewed demand for cheap supplies of protein. One of the attractions at the 1873 Viennese World’s Fair was the exhibition of the Japanese Empire. The exhibits included Japanese flora, among them soybean plants. The soybean had been part of Japanese and other East Asian food cultures[…]

How We Discovered That Europeans Used Cattle 8,000 Years Ago

The use of animals for their renewable products greatly increased human capabilities in prehistory. The use of animals for their renewable products greatly increased human capabilities in prehistory. Secondary products – or anything that can be gleaned from a domestic animal repeatedly over its lifetime – expanded the capabilities of ancient human societies. They helped[…]

Baltic Hunter-Gatherer Adoption of Agriculture

Ancient DNA analyses show that – unlike elsewhere in Europe – farmers from the Near East did not overtake hunter-gatherer populations in the Baltic. The findings also suggest that the Balto-Slavic branch of the Indo-European language family originated in the Steppe grasslands of the East. New research indicates that Baltic hunter-gatherers were not swamped by[…]

The Midwest Farmers Movement That Challenged Gilded Age Capitalism

In the 19th century, the Grange was an agricultural brotherhood that sought to foster mutual self-reliance and free themselves from middlemen and monopolies. Perhaps you’ve seen them on a leisurely weekend drive through the countryside—small white structures with the sign “Grange Hall.” Although the Grange is now a mere shadow of its former self, its[…]

Droughts and Agricultural Scarcity before Independence in the Viceroyalty of New Granada, 1800–1810

The crisis affected all kind of people: whites, mestizos, and indigenous people; herders, large cattle owners, and croppers of plantain. In May 1807, a group of farmers and ranchers from the lands around Santafe, the capital city of the Viceroyalty of New Granada (today Bogotá, the capital city of Colombia), wrote a complaint about meat[…]

Agricultural Markets and the Great Depression

Eighty years ago, the publication of John Steinbeck’s novel The Grapes of Wrath shocked the world with its description of starvation in the midst of plenty. By Dr. Rasheed SaleuddinPost-Doctoral Research FellowUniversity of Cambridge It took an estimated 2.3 billion metric tonnes of grain to feed the world in 2011 – that’s 6,300,000 tonnes per[…]