I am BARRY HESS > Blog

The Story of Wheat

Man, I hate when evolution is used to explain the greatest plant in existence. I can see why we’d want to steer kids away from any interest in the concept. It could only help America and the world, right? At least the article should describe an alternative viewpoint where a godly hand is the scientific explanation for the mutations rather than the “god of evolution.” (Yes, I realize I’m overstating the ID’ers case.)

Anyway, did you know there was a “guano rush?”

The search for fertiliser took unexpected turns. British entrepreneurs scoured the old battlefields of Europe searching for phosphorus-rich bones. In about 1830 a magic ingredient was found: guano. On the dry seabird islands off the South American and South African coasts, immense deposits of bird droppings, rich in nitrogen and phosphorus, had accumulated over centuries. Guano mining became a profitable business, and a grim one. Off South-West Africa, the discovery in 1843 of the tiny island of Ichaboe, covered in 25 feet of penguin and gannet excrement, led to a guano rush followed by a mutiny and battles. By 1850, Ichaboe, minus 800,000 tonnes of guano, was deserted again.

And any article discussing the man often credited with saving more human lives than any other person in history, the estimable University of Minnesota graduate Norman Borlaug, is worth your time.