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Veteto, James R [1], Williams, Marc N [2].

Biodiversity in a Bottle:  The Mead Circle Phenomenon in Southern Appalachia.

Mead (honey wine) is one of the most ancient alcoholic beverages used by humankind, with a deep, rich history in myth, legend, and oral tradition in diverse world cultures.  During the past fifteen years, a phenomenon of mead circles has arisen in southern Appalachia.  This presentation documents Appalachian mead circles as a distinct sociocultural, ethnobotanical development and contextualizes them within the world history of mead-making traditions.  Preliminary results are presented from participant observation in thirty mead circles and oral history interviews with ten prominent mead makers.  We highlight sociocultural aspects of Appalachian mead circles and document biological diversity used in the mead making process.  Over 150 species of plants were documented and nearly a dozen mushroom species.  Implications for teaching engaged ethnobotany in a unique way that excites the lay public outside of institutional programs are explored, as well as the possibilities for contributing ‘cultural topsoil’ to the sustainability movement.


1 - Western Carolina University, Anthropology and Sociology, 101 McKee Building, Cullowhee, NC, 28723, USA
2 - Plant and Healers International, PO Box 6362, Asheville , NC, 28816, USA

Keywords:
alchohol
education
ethnobotany
fermentation
biological diversity
mead
sociocultural phenomenon.

Presentation Type: Oral Presentation
Number:
Abstract ID:37
Candidate for Awards:None