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Treebeard's Stumper Answer
16 November 2001

Another Harvest Feast

People around the world celebrate the fall harvest with a feast, just as we will celebrate Thanksgiving next week. Foods, like people and ideas, also travel the world. The turkey and corn that the native Americans shared with the Pilgrims at the first Thanksgiving dinner were originally domesticated long before in central Mexico. What about the other foods on your holiday table. Where in the world were they first grown, and by whom?

Thanksgiving is probably my favorite holiday of the year, for family
and friends more than dinner, but our holiday food is remarkable too.
It's an international feast. We shouldn't take anything for granted.

Where did our holiday foods originate? We take our foods for granted, but they are cultural artifacts created by native peoples of genius around the world. I'm especially impressed with how many foods (and flowers) were first domesticated by the pre-Columbian peoples of the Americas. Turkey, sweet corn, potatoes, peppers and chilis, sweet potatoes, cranberries, string beans, summer and winter squash, tomatoes, avocados, pineapples, and chocolate are a few more reasons why Thanksgiving is a truly American holiday.


This was a bonus stumper for the Thankgiving holiday while my school was on vacation. Actually it's a repeat from November 22, 1996, so I figure it's OK to repeat my original answer. I'm working on a more comprehensive answer, but it turned into a big project and a fun scavenger hunt to make a comprehensive database of food origins! Here's my database (so far) in an Excel 2K spreadsheet (130K). Reports of errors and omissions will be appreciated, though it is a work in progress.

Since it's a holiday stumper, I figure I can continue to work on my answer through the holidays before making it into a proper webpage.

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