Thursday, November 10, 2016

Growing Seeds in the Land of Promise – Part II

Continuing from the last post, regarding the planting of seeds in certain climates in the Land of Promise. The last article ended with a description of the Jerusalem style seed for wheat. 
   Before finishing the Wheat, let’s visit what was grown in Jerusalem in 600 B.C. Jerusalem was part of the wheat belt where the future of flour and bread as a universal food base developed; grains were wheat, barley (wheat needs better soil than barley), oats (groat), millet and emmer (a type of spelt); seedpods of legumes, such as lentils, beans and chickpeas; vines producing grapes; vegetables, particularly wild garlic and onions, cucumbers; green seeds such as “carmel” (a spinach), and “melilot”; accordingly, plentiful was its honey and abundant its olives, with every kind of fruit on its trees—with olive oil a major product used in numerous ways, especially as a dip for bread.
The wealth and luxury of King Solomon's court some 350 years (970-931 B.C.) before the time of Lehi, is indicated by the daily menu of the palace kitchens: daily provisions consisted of 30 kors of semolina and 60 kors of [ordinary] flour, 10 fatted oxen, 20 pasture-fed oxen, and 100 sheep and goats, besides deer and gazelles, roebucks and fatted geese" (1 Kings 5:2-3). The cattle were imported from the Hauran area (east of the Jordan River), while fatted geese were a well-known Egyptian dish, prepared to please Pharaoh's daughter, Solomon's wife, who was accustomed to the pamperings of the Land of the Nile. Sugar cane probably also reached the region during this period. In fact, when the Queen of Sheba arrived in Jerusalem she was stunned by the splendor: "When the queen of Sheba observed all of Solomon's wisdom... the fare of his table, the service and attire of his attendants, and his wine service... she was left breathless" (1 Kings 10:5).
By the Second Temple Period (First century B.C. through 2nd century A.D.), Jerusalem had a variety of fruits, including: pomegranates, peaches, almonds, nuts, apples, pears of various kinds, carobs, black strawberries, citrons, peanuts, and pistachio nuts. Legumes continued to constitute the food staples. Among them were ful (broad beans), vetches, sweet peas, beans, lentils, peas, lupines, and sesame. However, the main crops were still wheat, olives, and grapes. Thus, we can say that when Lehi brought "seeds of every kind" from Jerusalem, they were mostly wheat, barley, emmer, and oats, as well as all kinds of fruits of the time, olives, pomegranates, figs, and grapes; legumes. It should also be noted that when in the Land of Promise, the grains expanded to include corn, neas and sheum, the latter two being quinoa and kañiwa, two supergrains from South America that are extremely high in protein and the reason why today South America produces very little wheat.
It should be noted, that in our day, wheat has come to dominate the grains we eat with 29-million hectares (1 hectare equals 100 acres) grown in China, 25-million grown in the U.S., 24.9-grown in India, 23.6-million grown in Russia, 12.6-grown in Kazakhstan, 11.4-grown in Canada, etc. Because wheat contains large amounts of gluten, a stretchy protein that enables bakers to create satisfying risen breads, it is almost impossible to make an acceptable risen loaf without at least some wheat mixed in; however, in B.C. times, wheat was not highly regarded—with most of the wheat crops used for animal feed; today corn and soy are used in that role.
    While Ralph Olsen in his Malay Peninsula Theory quotes Hunter and Ferguson that small grains of every kind from the Middle East would have included: “wheat, rye, barley, oats, millet, sorghum, and rice,” rice was not introduced into Jerusalem until around 350 B.C.
    In regard to “oats,” another seed from the Jerusalem area, which is the highest of all Old World cereal grains in protein and lowest in carbohydrates. Oats make tasty table fare, but most cultivars have a tough hull that’s hard to remove. Oats need lots of moisture, and favor a cool climate and fertile, well-drained soil—again, another grain that would have done well in the climate of the Lurin Valley where the Mulekites settled.
Barley is one of the oldest cultivated grains in the world. Barley flour is low in gluten and is mixed with other flours for making bread, and anciently, Egyptians buried mummies with necklaces of barley, and centuries later n 1324 Edward II of England standardized the inch as equal to “three grains of barley, dry and round, placed end to end lengthwise.”  It is a highly-adaptable crop, growing north of the Arctic circle and as far south as Ethiopia. Barley (Hordeum vulgare) is a delicious, nutty-tasting cereal grain, especially good in casseroles, soups, and pilaf. The grain has an outer hull that is removed before eating, and a “pearl” barley has been milled to remove the tough husks. Modern science discusses that Columbus introduced barley into South America, yet barley grows at very high altitude of 13,000 feet and is found all over the high Andes of Peru where it has adapted to the extreme conditions, is quick growing.
    However, the European introduced barley never did grow well in South America until Marino Romero joined the National Agrarian University La Molina in Lima and founded the Cereals Research Programme. Growing up in the Andes, Romero was the son of a teacher who was also a farmer, so he was aware of the importance of barley to the mountain communities. He set out on a mission to develop new varieties of barley that would thrive above 9,800 feet and would improve the diet, health and economy of the Andean population.
    With the support of the IAEA through its joint division with the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization, he managed to develop nine improved varieties of barley over the course of forty years that now account for over 90 per cent of the barley cultivated in Peru. Marino Romero died in 2005, but his work was continued by his wife, Professor Luz Gomez Pando, who since 1998 has led the Cereal Research Programme at La Molina University. Before the progress of Romero, barley was largely ignored by plant breeders and researchers since it was associated mainly with beer and animal feed.
Another grain is Millet, which is not a single grain but a name given to a group of several small related grains that have been around for thousands of years and are found in many diets around the world. They include pearl millet (Pennisetum glaucum), foxtail millet (Setaria italica), proso millet (Panicum miliaceum), finger millet/ragi (Eleucine coracana), and fonio (Digitaria exilis). Millet has grown in Bolivian Andes for sever al thousand years.
    Still another grain, Spelt, is very similar to modern wheat and refers to three ancient varieties Einhorn, Emmer, and Spelt. This grain is a variety of wheat widely cultivated until the spread of fertilizers and mechanical harvesting left it by the wayside in favor of wheats more compatible with industrialization. Spelt can be used in place of common wheat in most recipes.
    As for corn, it was once dismissed as a nutrient-poor starch—both a second-rate vegetable and a second-rate grain; however, today corn is being reassessed and viewed as a healthy food. Anciently, traditional Latin cultures learned how to treat corn with alkali, creating masa harina. This treatment liberates the niacin in corn, so those who depend on it for sustenance will avoid pellagra (disease caused by lack of nicotinic acid). Also, eating corn with beans creates a complementary mix of amino acids that raises the protein value to humans. Strictly an American food, corn was introduced to Europe (like the potato from Peru) from its history in the Americas dating back to about 2500 B.C., when it is believed to have spread thorugh much of the Americas; however, corn is credited as being in the inter-Andean valleys of Colombia between 7000 and 6000 years ago—5000 to 4000 B.C. (Dolores R. Piperno, "The Origins of Plant Cultivation and Domestication in the New World Tropics: Patterns, Process, and New Developments," Current Anthropology, 2011, 52(S4), S453-S470).
    This would suggest that the seeds brought from Jerusalem, if indeed the Mulekites brought any, would have grown, at least partially, in the Lurin Valley, or what they called the Land of Zarahemla. We need to keep in mind that any seed, that can get a partial start in a new area, will eventually develop and after two or three harvests, begin to adapt to the new soils, temperature and precipitation, thus surviving the change. What we do not find with the Mulekites is any information, like Nephi wrote, about their seeds growing exceeding and producing an abundant crop. Thus, minimal harvests, if supplanted by other foods, fishing and hunting, as an example, a new colony could have survived long enough for the crops to provide better and more abundant harvests.
    One of the interesting things about the Land of Zarahemla, being in the areas of Pachacamac in regard to supplementing food supplies until crops could be counted on, or wild plants domesticated, is the overabundance of fish and game.
(See the next post, “Growing Seeds in the Land of Promise – Part III,” for the amazing supplemental food available to the Mulekites)

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