Archaeologists revive ancient North American crops that may have fed thousands of people

goosefoot
‘Goosefoot’ plant. Image: Evelyn Simak / CC BY-SA 2.0

The scientific cultivation of lost ancient seed crops has yielded much higher than expected growth rates, challenging assumptions about maize (corn) growth in prehistoric North America .

According to new research ‘lost crops’ might have fed as many people in prehistoric North America as traditionally grown maize. But the study was not without challenges as no written or oral histories exist about these lost crops, and the more modern domesticated forms are now extinct.

Natalie Mueller is assistant professor of archaeology in Arts & Sciences at Washington University in St. Louis, and writing in the  Journal of Ethnobiology  she describes how “painstakingly” she calculated yield estimates for two annual plants that were cultivated in eastern North America for thousands of years before being abandoned for maize production.

Related article:  Documenting the rise and fall of populations through human poop

The researchers grew ‘goosefoot’ ( Chenopodium, sp.) and erect knotweed ( Polygonum erectum ), which when grown together were found to be “much more productive” than growing either species individually. According to a report in Eureka Alert , the researcher explained that when these two plants were grown along with the other known lost crops, they might have fed thousands of indigenous people.

Read full, original article: The Revival of Ancient Lost Crops Reveals Surprising Results

Outbreak
Outbreak Daily Digest
Biotech Facts & Fallacies
Talking Biotech
Genetics Unzipped
Video: Test everyone – Slovakia goes its own way to control COVID

Video: Test everyone – Slovakia goes its own way to control COVID

As Europe sees record coronavirus cases and deaths, Slovakia is testing its entire adult population. WSJ's Drew Hinshaw explains how ...
mag insects image superjumbo v

Disaster interrupted: Which farming system better preserves insect populations: Organic or conventional?

A three-year run of fragmentary Armageddon-like studies had primed the journalism pumps and settled the media framing about the future ...
dead bee desolate city

Are we facing an ‘Insect Apocalypse’ caused by ‘intensive, industrial’ farming and agricultural chemicals? The media say yes; Science says ‘no’

The media call it the “Insect Apocalypse”. In the past three years, the phrase has become an accepted truth of ...
globalmethanebudget globalcarbonproject cropped x

Infographic: Cows cause climate change? Agriculture scientist says ‘belching bovines’ get too much blame

A recent interview by Caroline Stocks, a UK journalist who writes about food, agriculture and the environment, of air quality ...
organic hillside sweet corn x

Organic v conventional using GMOs: Which is the more sustainable farming?

Many consumers spend more for organic food to avoid genetically modified products in part because they believe that “industrial agriculture” ...
benjamin franklin x

Are most GMO safety studies funded by industry?

The assertion that biotech companies do the research and the government just signs off on it is false ...
favicon

Environmental Working Group: EWG challenges safety of GMOs, food pesticide residues

Known by some as the "Environmental Worrying Group," EWG lobbies for tighter GMO legislation and famously puts out annual "dirty dozen" list of fruits and ...
m hansen

Michael Hansen: Architect of Consumers Union ongoing anti-GMO campaign

Michael K. Hansen (born 1956) is thought by critics to be the prime mover behind the ongoing campaign against agricultural biotechnology at Consumer Reports. He is an ...
News on human & agricultural genetics and biotechnology delivered to your inbox.
Optional. Mail on special occasions.
Send this to a friend