Many U.S. residents are amazed to learn that three-fifths of the fresh produce eaten in the U.S. comes from the West Coast of Mexico, and that much of the saltwater fish and shrimp they eat may come from Mexico’s reaches of the Gulf of Mexico, Pacific Ocean and Gulf of California. However, we should not belittle New Yorkers or Minnesotans for this lack of knowledge, since few of us who live much closer to U.S./Mexico border have an accurate sense of how much of our food comes from “el otro lado”—the lands and waters on the other side.
A novel approach toward helping young people ensure biodiversity in our world is studying seeds in the wild and planting them for food in the garden. Called “seed schools,” they should be in schools everywhere.
As someone who grows nearly a dozen acres of heritage grains in the desert—including the oldest corn and oldest wheat varieties in North America– I recently learned a fact about cereal commodity trading that knocked me off my feet. The most powerful transnational corporation you’ve never heard of—Glencore International PLC, the world’s largest diversified commodities trader—currently controls one tenth of the world’s wheat supply, and one quarter of the global harvest of barley, sunflower and rapeseed.
All roads lead to Rome, but chief among them was the Via Appia, a storied path from the capital to the heel of Italy traveled by everyone from Cicero to Monty Python. Robert A. Kaster traces their footsteps in ‘‘The Appian Way’’. In ‘‘Desert Terroir’’ (University of Texas Press, $25), Gary Paul Nabhan forages in the borderlands, where he connects dishes like capirotada, a Mexican bread pudding, to the Levantine cuisine of his Arab ancestors.