The Hidden Histories of Seven Natural Objects
"[Strange Harvests is] an impressive addition to the modern travelogue, painting some of the world's most remote terrain in visceral and sometimes breathtaking prose . . . an engrossing read." --NPR
An original and magical map of our world and its riches, formed of the stories of the small-scale harvests of seven natural objects
In this beguiling book, Edward Posnett journeys to some of the most far-flung locales on the planet to bring us seven wonders of the natural world--eiderdown, vicuña fiber, sea silk, vegetable ivory, civet coffee, guano, and edible birds' nests--that promise ways of using nature without damaging it. To the rest of the world these materials are mere commodities, but to their harvesters they are imbued with myth, tradition, folklore, and ritual, and form part of a shared identity and history.
Strange Harvests follows the journeys of these uncommon products from some of the most remote areas of the world to its most populated urban centers, drawing on the voices of the people and little-known communities who harvest, process, and trade them. Blending history, travel writing, and interviews, Posnett sets these human stories against our changing economic and ecological landscape. What do they tell us about capitalism, global market forces, and overharvesting? How do local microeconomies survive in a hyperconnected world? Is it possible for us to live together with different species? Strange Harvests makes us see the world with wonder, curiosity, and new concern.