Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Dragonhead mint and musk oxen

One of the more exciting things done in the world o' science at land-grant agricultural institutions is look at the domesticability of wild species. Cases in point: musk oxen have only been kept in captivity since about, oh, 1964, when the Musk Ox Domestication Project and farm was started. Now, what makes more sense? use an animal that can withstand 100 degrees below zero, or import some sheep that has to be kept indoors half the winter? Besides which, qiviut is MUCH warmer, softer, and longer than wool. And it doesn't shrink.

Today at the School of Ag we received reviews of a paper on dragonhead mint, studied in part to see if it is worth domesticating as an agronomic crop.

This kind of thing is really really intriguing to me. We limit ourselves terribly when we use only domesticated crops. Think about it. How many grains do we use? Barley, buckwheat, corn, oats, quinoa, rice, rye, teff, wheat. I'm sure there's a few others, but how many? not all that many, really.

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