I have many interests. I always have. Things fascinate me. Wikipedia is a great waste of time, although it always finds a way to make me eventually end up on some Second World War article.
One of many things I am interested in is the history of stuff. Go into a store. A big, scary box store like Walmart or Home Depot or Staples. Look around, loose focus, and notice all the stuff in the store. All the stuff hanging on little pegs, individually wrapped and priced. Thousands of items, different items in each store.
All those items were designed by someone to fill an unmet need, they were manufactured in a plant somewhere and shipped (probably) halfway around the world. Raw materials were extracted from the earth, and refined to a point where a machine could take the material in and spit out a finished product. They were packaged, marketed, advertised, distributed to where they are now. Hundreds, if not thousands of hours were spent by many different people directly and indirectly, thinking about and being paid to work on 3/4″ stainless steel washers.
People spent the majority of their working lives creating washers. They lived and breathed washers from 9-5. They passed away, their major contribution to humanity being a cog in the machine that created 3/4″ stainless steel washers.
Not only that, washers didn’t start that way. They evolved through different iterations, each iteration taking thousands of hours and thousands of people to breathe life into them, so that today they are sold $0.05 each, engineered to perfection of performance. The majority of the history of them being long forgotten, its just accepted that things are they way they are for a reason. No one really cares about the first, second, or third iteration of the washer, they all want one they can buy today that will do the job they need it to do now.
Boggling. Words can not describe just how good we have it, even with the most ordinary of things. We live in a privileged age. And that’s just thinking about physical items in a store. What about literature, research, music, stock markets, and software.
The ones that really fascinate me, however, are the natural items we take for granted. Specifically, vegetables.
Natural things aren’t engineered; they evolved to that point. And unlike the animal kingdom, vegetables can’t get up and migrate. Not very quickly, at least. They tend to evolve in very distinct climates suitable for their growth. Human trade has migrated them to just about every other part of the planet where humans find a way to grow them there.
But they all started somewhere. There was some little niche in some long-forgotten corner of the world where they thrived on their own, then man came around, discovered their deliciousness, and figured out a way to agriculture them (yes, I just used agriculture as a verb). With a little help, they thrived in their new environments and we take them for granted today.
Carrots started (apparently) in Afghanistan.
I want to study the origin and migration of carrots. Next maybe bell peppers, followed by garlic.
I want to find the exact spot they were discovered. GPS coordinates and all.
I want to know the name of the person who thought they looked edible and decided to stick them in their mouth, and what they thought after the first bite.
I’m looking for a Master’s program in the Origin of Common Vegetables.