Issue #9 – Desert Delights

 

 

 

Photos by Dominique Clay-Brown

 

Does a hot bowl of sunflower and sand

grass soup sound appetizing? How about

grasshoppers trapped with the sweet, sticky

sap of cat tails? Nevada’s Native Americans

were limited in the types and amount of food

that was available because of the harsh desert

environment. They had to live off the land and

that meant eating roots, berries, pine nuts,

herbs, and seeds. Meat was only a small part

of their diet and wasn’t always easy to find.

Some of the meat sources that they could find

were rabbits, skunks, mice, rats, and tortoises.

The desert we live in doesn’t offer many

options for food. If you had to live off the

land you would probably be very hungry….or

would relocate. Technology has changed all

that and we are no longer limited to what the

desert can provide. The two most important

ways technology has affected what foods

are available to us are transportation and

preservation.

 

Transportation

 

Food transportation technology dates all the

way back to the Roman Empire when people

would travel overland from the Far East to

Europe bringing exotic spices and food.

Marine routes soon followed and until the

19th century sea transport was the dominant

means of transporting food. The 20th century

brought the automobile, highways, and

cheaper more efficient food transportation.

Non-perishables could then be delivered to

places that had been hard to reach before.

But the most important advancement in

transporting food has been refrigeration.

Meats, vegetables, and fruits can now be kept

fresh while in transport so we can enjoy a

wide variety of foods that we would otherwise

not be able to enjoy.

 

Preservation

 

There are many ways to preserve food so it can

last for months. It can be dried, pasteurized,

frozen, or vacuum packed(canned), just to name

a few. Drying is oldest way of preserving food by

removing the water and inhibiting the growth of

microorganisms. Pasteurization is the process of

heating milk to destroy organisms that

cause food spoilage and disease.

Freezing is probably the easiest

and best way of preserving food

by stopping most chemical and

biological processes that break down

food. There are also many artificial

additives that can lengthen the shelf

life of food.

So the next time you don’t know what

to make for dinner or don’t think anything in your

refrigerator looks appealing, just be glad it isn’t root

and rodent stew.

 

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