Foraging the Literature for Useful Plants of the Past & Present

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The vegetation that humans consume and use today is primarily cultivated, harvested, and purchased at grocery stores. The types of foods and a connection to the natural world can both be limited by this modern food system. In pre-agrarian societies and as a supplement to the diet today, people from all cultures developed relationships with the plant world that involved identifying plants, knowing when they were useful to harvest, and how to best use them. Today this practice is known as foraging and still requires intimate knowledge of local plant life. This exhibit showcases several plant species native to the region now known as Texas, and surrounding areas, that were consumed and used by several Indigenous tribes. It also discusses modern foraging practices and identification details through guidebooks and encyclopedia-length compilations by local experts in botany.

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