🎧 “Dwarf wheat: On the shoulders of a giant” | Our Daily Bread | Eat This Podcast

Listened to Dwarf wheat: On the shoulders of a giant | Our Daily Bread 10 by Jeremy CherfasJeremy Cherfas from Eat This Podcast

Norman Borlaug created the wheats that created the Green Revolution. They had short stems that could carry heavy ears of wheat, engorged by loads of fertiliser. They were resistant to devastating rust diseases. And they were insensitive to daylength, meaning they could be grown almost anywhere.

All three traits had been bred into wheat 40 years before Borlaug got going, by the Italian pioneer Nazareno Strampelli.

Photo is a 1933 medal to honour Nazareno Strampelli.

I’d never heard the quote from the episode, but it is a painful, but wonderful, concept to contemplate. Here’s an alternate, but somewhat more flowery translation:

History celebrates the battlefields whereon we meet our death, but scorns to speak of the ploughed fields whereby we thrive; it knows the names of king’s bastards, but cannot tell us the origin of wheat. That is the way of human folly.

Jean Henri Fabre in Les Merveilles de l’Instinct Chez les Insectes: Morceaux Choisis (The Wonders of Instinct in Insects: Selected Pieces) (1913), page 242.

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