Explore the idea of “native” and “traditional” food in Nora’s piece about cultivating culture, school gardens, and growing community.
“If you look back to something as simple as where grains sprouted before humans began our cross-continental migrations, there are surprises. A crop like maize is still rooted in much of its original landscape, (as Mexico and the U.S. continue to be the top two producers of corn, although Brazil and Japan are also major exporters), but products like rice or wheat were first cultivated in some unexpected places. Wheat is not native to North America, but actually comes from the Levant region of the Near East and the Ethiopian Highlands. And rice began in the Himalayan Mountains and India, not spreading throughout Asia until Chinese domestication between 8,000 to 13,500 years ago. With historical timelines in mind, is the idea of “traditional” more wrapped up in the cultivation and development of the cuisine? Can something still be “native” if you let it grow over time?
The year I turned 17, I moved from the small agricultural town of Corvallis, OR to the Boston suburb of Somerville, MA…”