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Plants Processed for Food and Medicine Before Farming Began

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

(Leruswing, via Wikimedia Commons)STANFORD, CALIFORNIA—Traces of millet and other grains, yams, beans, and roots have been found on three grinding stones from China’s Yellow River region. The residues suggest that people may have been using the plants for food and medicine long before they started cultivating them, since the earliest archaeological evidence of crop cultivation in China is just 11,000 years old. “We can never know for certain why a plant was ingested, but I think these early people probably had a detailed knowledge of the plants they selected and used,” commented Karen Hardy of the Catalan Institution for Research and Advanced Studies.