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.
On February 27, an unprecedented alliance of more than 60 Occupy groups and 30 environmental, food and corporate accountability organizations have joined together for Occupy our Food Supply, a global day of action resisting the corporate control of food systems.
Why does food taste better when you know where it comes from? Because history—ecological, cultural, even personal—flavors every bite we eat. Whether it’s the volatile chemical compounds that a plant absorbs from the soil or the stories and memories of places that are evoked by taste, layers of flavor await those willing to delve into the roots of real food. In this landmark book, Gary Paul Nabhan takes us on a personal trip into the southwestern borderlands to discover the terroir—the “taste of the place”—that makes this desert so delicious.