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  1. Rivvy Elf's Avatar
    Librarian of Imladris
    Join Date
    Sep 2004

    On Roleplaying with Foods and Crops from the "New World" (Corn, Potatoes, etc.)

    Why is this important?: Tolkien himself has replaced food and goods that were exclusive only to the new world prior to the Exploration Age in revised editions of his works. See this link for more discussion on the subject, and how some new world plants could've been imported from Numenor/Valinor. So if we want to have our RP posts in-line with the spirit of Tolkien, we have to keep in mind which foods are plausible to grow and use in current day in 3014.

    I would like to point out that it is very plausible to use most of these foods and goods in our everyday RP. But not all of them, as you'll see.

    This is how I will discuss some of the most commonly used foods and crops in our modern day world: I will discuss where the origin of each food/crop in real life, and how plausible it is for an average RP character to possess/use it.

    Please feel free to make comments or suggest any changes.


    Maize (Corn):
    Origin- Mexico. Can be grown in plenty of regions
    Middle Earth Plausibility- Confirmed as ingredient in Lembas (Maybe? See Morgoth's Ring for description of white corn in lembas). Either way, very high plausibility


    Origin- Most commonly in North America in temperate regions
    Middle Earth Plausibility- Very High


    The Common Bean:
    Origin- Mesoamerica and parts of South America. Can be grown in plenty of regions
    Middle Earth Plausibility- Very High

    Lima Beans:
    Origin- Mesomerica. Can be grown in plenty of regions
    Middle Earth Plausibility- Very High

    Origin- Northwestern Argentina or Southeastern Bolivia. Best grown in regions with long periods of warm weather (see Southern U.S and China)
    Middle Earth Plausibility- High

    Roots and tubers-

    Origin- Southern Peru and some parts of Bolivia. Can be grown in plenty of regions (see Ireland)
    Middle Earth Plausibility- Confirmed (Source: Of Herbs and Stewed Rabbits, Two Towers)

    Sweet Potato:
    Origin- Central or South America. Cannot tolerate frost. Can be grown as summer crop in temperate regions, though.
    Middle Earth Plausibility- High


    Origin- Mexico or California. Most common breed grows in sub-tropic region without frost and with little wind.
    Middle Earth Plausibility- Medium. Probably most common in places with a degree of weather control, like Lothlorien

    Cocoa Bean (Chocolate):
    Origin- Central America. Can only be grown 20 to the north and south of the Equator
    Middle Earth Plausibility- Very low. If it can be found anywhere in 3014, most likely in the jungle areas deep within Harad region. But availability extremely limited even then due to probable trade embargoes from Gondor to Harad, lack of Harad government (Harad tribe could hoard cocoa and not spread it) to commercially grow or create organized trade to Rhun (?)

    Origin- North America. Traditionally grown in wetlands. Can be grown in places with consistently high soil moisture content. Can be grown in cold climates if managed effectively
    Middle Earth Plausibility- High

    Peppers (Capsicum. NOT to be confused with peppercorns, which is an expensive old world crop originating in India):
    Origin- South America and Central America. Grown in sunny lands with warm, loamy, moist soils (but not waterlogged). Hates frost
    Middle Earth Plausibility- High

    Origin- Central and Western South America. Can be grown in plenty of regions
    Middle Earth Plausibility- Low, not because it can't be grown in a lot of places in Middle Earth (it can), but because Tolkien changed tomatoes to pickles in The Hobbit.


    Squash and Pumpkins:
    Origin- Mexico or South America. Can be grown in a lot of regions
    Middle Earth Plausibility- Very High


    Origin- Northeastern Brazil. Commonly grown in tropical climates. Cannot stand frost
    Middle Earth Plausibility- Low

    Origin- North America. Commonly grown in warm temperate to sub-tropic climates
    Middle Earth Plausibility- High


    Chicle (key ingredient in chewing gum):
    Origin- Central America. It is sub-tropical, and does not tolerate frost. Can grow in a variety of soil conditions, however
    Middle Earth Plausibility- High

    Maple Syrup:
    Origin- Northeastern America. Common in temperate regions.
    Middle Earth Plausibility- High in places without ents or huorns

    Origin- Amazon Rainforest. Has a history of being hard to cultivate even in tropic climates due to things like Blight.
    Middle Earth Plausibility- Very Low

    Tobacco is confirmed in Middle Earth because of its use in the Hobbit and the Lord of the Rings.

    Origin- Mexico. Grown in regions with hot-humid climate with well-drained, high organic loamy soil. Most commonly grown 10-20 degrees from equator, but it actually can be grown in regions like Eastern China and areas in Turkey.
    Middle Earth Plausibility- Low

  2. Ta'leus Shieldsong's Avatar
    Craftsman of Dol Amroth
    Join Date
    Mar 2016
    I would make the suggestion of adding a number of different berries, fruits, and nuts to the "high" probability of being in Middle Earth, due to the climate in the Northern part of the world (specifically the Shire) being similar to that of England, and these fruits historical basis in the U.K. over the last few hundred years.

    Wood strawberries; elder, roan, black, red, holly, and heather berries; raspberries.
    Fruits: Sloes; plums; currants.
    Nuts: Acorns; hazelnuts.

    OH! And of course, we have to add mushrooms to the list as well. ;)

  3. Rivvy Elf's Avatar
    Librarian of Imladris
    Join Date
    Sep 2004
    Many of those are found in the old world. Acorns were found in Greece, and Wood strawberries were found in Persia, for instance. Which of those are new world foods that never made its way across the atlantic or the pacific until the Columbian exchange?
    Last edited by Rivvy Elf; 08/Aug/2017 at 08:13 AM.


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