For thousands of years, goosefoot and knotweed were grown as crops, possibly feeding as many indigenous people of North America as corn. But the domesticated forms of these lost crops became lost over the years, and now a Washington University in St. Louis archaeologist is trying to figure out why — and recreate them.
As ecosystem engineers, bison have been hiding in plain sight for the past 40 years, since archaeologists first discovered that several native plants were domesticated in eastern North America. New research by Natalie Mueller, assistant professor of anthropology in Arts & Sciences, explains the connection, published July 8 in Nature Plants.
Long before corn was king, the women of Cahokia’s mysterious Mississippian mound-building culture were using their knowledge of domesticated and wild food crops to feed the thousands of Native Americans who flocked to what was then North America’s largest city, suggests a new book by a paleoethnobiologist at Washington University in St. Louis. “Feeding Cahokia” sets the record straight on America’s first farmers while offering a roadmap for rediscovering the highly nutritious native foods they once cultivated, including a North American cousin of quinoa.