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The Seven Spices: Pumpkins, Puritans, And Pathogens In Colonial New England, Michael Sharbaugh Nov 2011

The Seven Spices: Pumpkins, Puritans, And Pathogens In Colonial New England, Michael Sharbaugh

Michael D Sharbaugh

Water sources in the United States' New England region are laden with arsenic. Particularly during North America's colonial period--prior to modern filtration processes--arsenic would make it into the colonists' drinking water. In this article, which evokes the biocultural evolution paradigm, it is argued that colonists offset health risks from the contaminant (arsenic poisoning) by ingesting copious amounts of seven spices--cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, cardamom, allspice, vanilla, and ginger. The inclusion of these spices in fall and winter recipes that hail from New England would therefore explain why many Americans associate them not only with the region, but with Thanksgiving and ...