November 17, 2015


Hello, my name is Stuart  and welcome to my blog.

I am a third year Archaeology student at the University of York and this is a blog on the stories of the plants and animals we take for granted, their stories, past and present.

 ‘Of the home’ is the meaning of the Latin word domesticus, the origin for the word domestication. The blog will attempt to offer up-to-date information and the ideas surrounding the domestication process of our plant and animal companions, the key word being process, meaning it is on changes past and present.  It will offer overviews of current research as well highlighting the significance of new findings and discussing showing current issues surrounding food production.

There are  typically kinds of posts:

  1. Ones on my current dissertation work
  2. Overviews of ideas and theories – stories of plants and animals and modern issues of concern
  3. Short posts on things that I have read that just need to be posted, like the story of Douglas the camel who fought in the American Civil War, things like that can’t be ignored.

These plants and animals have changed what they eat, where they live, how they live, they have in most cases forgotten their progenitor and have become the oversized pets of a generation who are always wanting more. But then again we have done exactly the same. Re-read the last sentence but in reference to humans, it mostly works.

This is to say that domestication works both ways. We have become almost just as reliant on this select group of plants and animals, as this group has become reliant on us. There is a symbiotic relationship. The domesticated, in an evolutionary sense, are typically the most successful animals and plants on the planet, though they are killed in the millions every year.

These animals are in many cases treated horribly, the domesticated plants as well are the victim of genetic bottlenecks and pesticides, when they’re not grown at the expense of other plants or destroying the fertility of the soil.

This blog will also explore current issues such as the crop monocultures, the dominance of the reigning superpower Monsanto and subjects such as vegetarianism, ethical concerns and so on.

8 thoughts on “About

  • Hi, Stuart, Thanks for liking and following my blog. You asparagus posting was an eye-opener and I will be following up on that and some of the similar nonsense reflecting mankind’s belief we can abuse both our planet and common sense in any way(s) we wish to. (In the U.S., we now have blueberries, blackberries, strawberries and watermelon available year-round. And to demonstrate how weird this can be, I bought some strawberries a few weeks ago labeled ‘California Giants’ — but further down on the pack, it was revealed that these berries actually hailed from Mexico! So much for truth in advertising!
    An aside: I was impressed with the photo of a Tesco’s story in the Daily Mail article. Believe me, they looked NOTHING like that 40 years ago when I was reporting on the food retailing trade from London!
    Doug Harris
    ps — You might also enjoy my other blog,

  • You’re welcome. That’s ridiculous about the California Giants, is that even legal? Just wondering as the EU has the PGI laws and wondering if its different in the US? A lot of the companies (at least ones here) don’t seem to know where their food comes from! The horse-meat scandal a great example…

    And wow that much change in 40 years?? That’s a little worrying. Will look into that!

    P.S – Will check out the blog now

  • The horse meat scandal is serious primarily because eating horsemeat has, for a considerable of time, been illegal in the UK. ‘More an emotional than a practical issue for a while, but now, given the vast amounts of chemicals fed to horses as well as to the animals we DO (willingly) eat, we all have reason to be curbing our taste for flesh-based foods.
    BTW, I did an article for The Washington Post back around 1975 on a archeology did about a hundred yards (91 m) from St. Paul’s Cathedral in London — in the still-standing ruins of a church bombed in WWII. Hard as it may be to believe, there were a lot of WWII ruins still extant in London then. Huge swaths of the East End looked little different from the days after the area was bombed in the early 1940’s. I walked once from Greenwich (through a tunnel under the Thames) through the East End and on to my flat in Kensington, and it was an eerie feeling getting that glimpse back in time. Now, of course, that area is valuable real estate!

  • I’ll look it up — and I may be able to scan the article and sent it to you. (I’ve also written for The Financial Times and The Times and worked as a sub-editor for the latter — as many times (once) as I appeared on stage at NYC’s Metropolitan Opera with Leontyne Price in Aida! THAT was a trip, as we used to say back in the ’60’s!)

    • Wow that’s amazing! Also I have access to the archives of the Washington Post (being a Uni student) so if you have the date I can look it up if that’s easier.

  • I hope I haven’t really lost it — but when you’ve accumulated thousands of clips over a half-century career, some do end up being discarded or lost over time. The archeological dig was around 1975. You might search for my byline — maybe plus the key word ‘archeology’ in the WP archive. It was a cool story to stumble upon, and write.

  • The archive website is quite difficult to navigate and couldn’t find it. Will try again soon but please send a message if you find it or remember the date.

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