August 30, 2018

Vantage Point

Literature reflects the human experience of growing, harvesting, and processing food and how people are connected to the land and water from which food comes. In Cape Cod (1865), Henry David Thoreau observed the New England cod fishery’s abundance: “Salt fish were stacked up on the wharves, looking like corded wood, maple and yellow birch with bark left on . . . such in one sense they were—fuel to maintain our vital fires—an Eastern wood which grew on the Grand Banks.” By calling cod “fuel” for “our vital fires,” Thoreau recognized the fishery’s place at the time as an essential American food source and economic engine.

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