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玉米的世界历史

The history of the world according to corn - Chris A. Kniesly

“我们完全有理由相信玉米已经成功地驯化了我们” ——Michael Pollan
Corn currently accounts for more than one tenth of our global crop production.
目前 玉米在全球农作物产量占比超过了十分之一
The United States alone has enough cornfields to cover Germany.
仅美国的玉米地就足以覆盖德国
But while other crops we grow come in a range of varieties,
虽然我们种植的其他作物品种繁多
over 99% of cultivated corn is the exact same type:
但我们种植的玉米99%以上都属于同一种:
Yellow Dent #2.
马齿型玉米2号
This means that humans grow more Yellow Dent #2
也就是说 人们种植的马齿型玉米2号
than any other plant on the planet.
其数量多过地球上任何一种植物
So how did this single variety of this single plant
那么 玉米的这一品种
become the biggest success story in agricultural history?
是如何成为农业历史上最成功作物的呢?
Nearly 9,000 years ago, corn, also called maize,
大约在9000年前
was first domesticated from teosinte,
玉米 即玉蜀黍 最初是由原产于中美洲的
a grass native to Mesoamerica.
一种叫墨西哥类蜀黍的草驯化而来
Teosinte’s rock-hard seeds were barely edible,
墨西哥类蜀黍坚硬的种子几乎不可食用
but its fibrous husk could be turned into a versatile material.
但它的纤维外壳能转化为一种多功能材料
Over the next 4,700 years,
接下来的4700年里
farmers bred the plant into a staple crop,
农民们把它培育成一种主要作物
with larger cobs and edible kernels.
它的穗轴更大 谷粒可食用
As maize spread throughout the Americas, it took on an important role,
随着玉蜀黍在整个美洲的传播 它变得非常重要
with multiple indigenous societies revering a “Corn Mother”
许多原住民部落都敬它为“玉米之母“
as the goddess who created agriculture.
即创造农业的女神
When Europeans first arrived in America, they shunned the strange plant.
首次来到美洲的欧洲人很排斥这种奇怪的植物
Many even believed
很多人甚至认为
it was the source of physical and cultural differences
他们和中美洲人在身体上和文化上的差异
between them and the Mesoamericans.
源于这种植物
However, their attempts to cultivate European crops
他们尝试在美洲土地上种植欧洲作物
in American soil quickly failed,
但很快失败了
and the settlers were forced to expand their diet.
在此定居的欧洲人被迫扩大他们的饮食范围
Finding the crop to their taste,
当他们发现玉蜀黍很合胃口
maize soon crossed the Atlantic,
玉蜀黍便很快传播到大西洋彼岸
where its ability to grow in diverse climates
玉蜀黍能够在各种气候下生长
made it a popular grain in many European countries.
因此它在很多欧洲国家是一种热门的谷物
But the newly established United States was still the corn capital of the world.
但新建的美国仍是世界上的玉米种植大国
In the early 1800’s, different regions across the country
19世纪初 美国各地培育出了
produced strains of varying size and taste.
大小不同 口感不同的玉米品种
In the 1850’s, however,
然而在19世纪50年代
these unique varieties proved difficult for train operators
这些独特的品种难以用火车包装运输
to package, and for traders to sell.
商人在售卖时也遇到了困难
Trade boards in rail hubs like Chicago
芝加哥等铁路枢纽城市的贸易委员会
encouraged corn farmers to breed one standardized crop.
鼓励农民培育一种标准化的玉米品种
This dream would finally be realized at 1893’s World’s Fair,
这个愿望终于在1893年的世博会上实现了
where James Reid’s yellow dent corn won the Blue Ribbon.
James Reid的马齿型玉米赢得了蓝丝带奖
Over the next 50 years,
接下来的50年里
yellow dent corn swept the nation.
马齿型玉米在全美广泛种植
Following the technological developments of World War II,
随着二战时期的技术发展
mechanized harvesters became widely available.
机械收割机得到广泛运用
This meant a batch of corn
这就意味着
that previously took a full day to harvest by hand could now
以前需要花一整天时间人工收割的一片玉米地
be collected in just 5 minutes.
现在只需要五分钟就可完成
Another wartime technology,
另外一项二战时的技术
the chemical explosive ammonium nitrate,
化学爆破物硝酸铵
also found new life on the farm.
也在农田里有了新的用途
With this new synthetic fertilizer,
有了这种新的合成肥料
farmers could plant dense fields of corn year after year,
农民们可以一年接一年地种植玉米
without the need to rotate their crops and restore nitrogen to the soil.
不需要轮耕作物来恢复土壤中的氮
While these advances made corn
虽然这些技术进步
an attractive crop to American farmers,
使玉米成为受美国农民喜欢的作物
US agricultural policy limited the amount
但为了确保玉米的高售价
farmers could grow to ensure high sale prices.
美国的农业政策限制了玉米的种植量
But in 1972,
但在1972年
President Richard Nixon removed these limitations
理查德·尼克松总统解除了这些限制
while negotiating massive grain sales to the Soviet Union.
并协商将大量玉米出口到苏联
With this new trade deal and WWII technology,
有了这项新的贸易协定以及二战的技术
corn production exploded into a global phenomenon.
全球掀起了一场玉米种植热
These mountains of maize
玉米庞大的产量
inspired numerous corn concoctions.
促进了大量玉米混合调制品的出现
Cornstarch could be used
从汽油到胶水
as a thickening agent for everything from gasoline to glue
玉米淀粉在很多领域被用作增稠剂
or processed into a low-cost sweetener
或者被加工为低成本的增甜剂
known as High-Fructose Corn Syrup.
即众所周知的高果糖浆
Maize quickly became one of the cheapest animal feeds worldwide.
玉米很快成为世界上最便宜的动物饲料之一
This allowed for inexpensive meat production,
这降低了肉类的生产成本
which in turn increased the demand for meat and corn feed.
进而增加了人们对肉类和玉米饲料的需求
Today, humans eat only 40% of all cultivated corn,
现在 人类吃掉的玉米仅占所有种植量的40%
while the remaining 60% supports consumer good industries worldwide.
其余的60%被世界各地的其他行业所消耗
Yet the spread of this wonder-crop has come at a price.
然而 这种神奇作物的广泛传播是有代价的
Global water sources are polluted by excess ammonium nitrate from cornfields.
玉米地多余的硝酸铵污染了全球的水源
Corn accounts for a large portion
与农业相关的碳排放
of agriculture-related carbon emissions,
有很大一部分是由玉米造成的
partly due to the increased meat production it enables.
其中的部分原因是玉米使肉类产量增加
The use of high fructose corn syrup may be a contributor to diabetes and obesity.
使用高果糖浆还可能引起糖尿病和肥胖
And the rise of monoculture farming
单一栽培农业的兴起
has left our food supply dangerously vulnerable to pests and pathogens—
使玉米很容易受到病虫害的威胁
a single virus could infect
一种单一的病毒
the world’s supply of this ubiquitous crop.
就能感染这种在全球普便存在的作物
Corn has gone from a bushy grass
玉米已经从一种茂密的杂草
to an essential element of the world’s industries.
变成了世界工业的必要元素
But only time will tell
但只有时间知道
if it has led us into a maze of unsustainability.
玉米是否会把我们带入不可持续的迷宫中

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玉米的历史

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视频来源

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i6teBcfKpik

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