Saturday, March 17, 2012

It's A Families Affair

Today was supposed to be the last meeting of my Nature Journaling Class, winter session.  I cancelled because the forecast was for virtually 100% chance of rain and/or snow, and I thought driving in the Feather River Canyon would remain hazardous, and, in any case, it would not be good weather for writing, drawing, taking photos, etc., although a hike in the rain when properly bundled up can be fun.
Well, it turned out to be mostly sunny all morning.  As I was eating lunch, regretting that we missed out on a chance to wander around identifying wildflowers, I took a closer look at this beautiful pizza - made in Italy, no less.  I thought, "Wow!  There must be at least five different plant families on this thing."  So, I made a list of what I could see without a microscope, then consulted the list of ingredients on the box.  Nine plant families represented!  A virtual botanical garden.  So, I ended up having a nice, dry, indoor field trip.  Here's my summary:
Wheat, Triticum sp., actually a domesticated grass, Family Poaceae.  Tomatoes and tomato paste, Solanum lycopersicum, Deadly Nightshade Family, Solanceae.  Bell Peppers, Capsicum sp., also Solanceae.  Eggplant,  Solanum melongena, also Solanaceae. Sunflower seed oil, Helianthus annuus, Family Asteraceae, often called the sunflower family, but more accurately the Aster Family since every family is named after its most typical genus, in this case the asters.  Zucchini, Cucurbita pepo, the gourd family, which also contains cucumbers, Cucurbitaceae. Asparagus, Asparagus officinalis, Asparagus family, Asparagaceae.  Broccoli, Brassica oleracea, mustard family, Brassicaceae.  Olive oil, Olea europaea, Family Oleaceae, which contains olives and lilacs!  Basil, Ocimum basilicum, the mint family, Lamiaceae, which contains quite a few of the most common herbs.  Sugar, depending on whether it came from Sugar Cane, Saccharum sp., or Sugar Beets, Beta vulgaris, a member of the grass family, Poaceae, or the amaranth family, Amaranthaceae.
So, this pizza was not only more complicated than I first thought, but a fair amount of fossil fuel was consumed in shipping it here from Italy. 

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