05 July 2008

Food, History, and Perspective

Human lifespan is bumping into diseases of the brain such as Alzheimer's Dementia. Modern medicine is temporarily stymied as to how to deal with such problems of degeneration over time. You may consider it ironic that ancient herbs and spices may hold a key to dealing with this dilemma brought about by longer life.

The history of foods, spices, seasonings, and beverages makes a fascinating side-bar to the history of human settlements, trade, and conquest.

The quest for spice, was a huge motivation behind the competition of the various European peoples to lay claim to trade routes to the far east. It was this competition for favourable trade routes that led to the discovery of the Americas by 15th century Europeans, and the colonisation of the Americas, Africa, and significant parts of Asia and Oceania.

Even the humble seasoningsalt, played a very significant role in the trade and conquest of early people. At one time, salt was used as payment for services rendered. Hence the saying, "he is not worth his salt." The table below gives a rough overview of the history of human herbs, spices, and vegetables.


(Used B.C.)

Mushroom, beet, radish, turnip,
carrot, parsnip, asparagus, leek, onion, cabbage,lettuce, artichoke,
cucumber, broad bean, pea, olive, apple,pear, cherry, grape, fig,
date, strawberry, basil, marjoram, oregano, mint, rosemary, sage,
savory, thyme, anise, caraway, coriander, cumin, dill, parsley,
fennel, bay, caper, fenugreek, garlic, mustard, poppy, sesame, saffron.


Spinach, celery, rhubarb,
cauliflower, broccoli, Brussels sprouts.


(Used BC)

Citron, apricot, peach,
cardamom, ginger, cinnamon, turmeric, black pepper.


Yam, water chestnut, bamboo,
eggplant, lemon, lime, orange, melon, clove, nutmeg, mace, tarragon.

New World:

(Used BC)

Potato, pumpkin, squash, tomato,
kidney bean, lima bean, sweet pepper, avocado, pineapple, allspice,
red pepper, chilli pepper, vanilla


When future humans look back on the fall of western civilisation, and its conquest by more primitive humans, they will likely wonder whether there was something in the drinking water that made us weak, or perhaps something in our diets?

Of course, next level humans will understand most of the multi-factorial reasons for the fall of enlightened, multiculturalised postmodern western society. But next level humans will probably be spending their time pushing the limits outward, lightyears beyond the pedantic and pedestrian scholars of future Earth--who try to understand the rise and fall of great empires of the past.

We should not forget to take what is important along with us, including the spices, foods, passions, and beverages that make an ambitious and accomplished life enjoyable.

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“During times of universal deceit, telling the truth becomes a revolutionary act” _George Orwell

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